Today: Indonesia Earthquake: Tsunami Warning Issued Following Magnitude 8.6 Temblor

Note: Today’s violent earthquake in Indonesia offers another example of the unpredictable impacts of climate change: Earthquakes and Tsunamis.

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from the Huffington Post

Indonesia Tsunami Warning

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — A massive earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast triggered tsunami fears across the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, sending residents in coastal cities fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.

A strong aftershock nearly three hours later sparked a new wave of panic. Indonesia’s government responded by issuing a fresh tsunami warning.

Some residents were crying in Aceh, where memories of a 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 people in the province alone, are still raw. Others screamed “God is great” as they poured from their homes or searched frantically for separated family members.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the first 8.6-magnitude quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles (434 kilometers) from Aceh province.

That prompted the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii to issue a tsunami watch for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.

A wave measuring less than 30 inches (80 centimeters) high, rolled to Indonesia’s coast. There were no other signs of serious damage.

But just as the region was sighing relief, an 8.2-magnitude aftershock hit.

“We just issued another tsunami warning,” Prih Harjadi, from Indonesia’s geophysics agency, told TVOne in a live interview.

People along the western coast of Sumatra island and the Mentawai islands were told to stay clear of coasts.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers watch remained in effect. A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent.

The initial quake was a strike-slip, not a thrust quake, according to experts. In a strike slip quake, the earth moves horizontally rather than vertically and doesn’t displace large volumes of water.

They were still analyzing the aftershock.

“When I first saw this was an 8.7 near Sumatra, I was fearing the worst,” Roger Musson, seismologist at the British geological survey who has studied Sumatra’s fault lines, noting one of the initial reported magnitudes for the quake. “But as soon as I discovered what type of earthquake it was, then I felt a lot better.”

The first tremor was felt in Malaysia, where it caused high-rise buildings to shake for about a minute, and in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh and India.

It caused chaos in the streets of Aceh. Patients poured out of hospitals, some with drips still attached to their arms. In some places, electricity was briefly cut.

Hours after the temblor, people were still standing outside their homes and offices, afraid to go back inside.

“I was in the shower on the fifth floor of my hotel,” Timbang Pangaribuan told El Shinta radio from the city of Medan. “We all ran out. … We’re all standing outside now.”

He said one guest was injured when he jumped from the window of his room.

Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center issued an evacuation order to residents in six provinces along the country’s west coast, including the popular tourist destinations of Phuket, Krabi and Phang-Nga.

India’s Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for parts of the eastern Andaman and Nicobar islands. In Tamil Nadu in southern India, police cordoned off the beach and used loudspeakers to warn people to leave the area.

The quake was felt in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where many people in the city’s commercial Motijheel district left their offices and homes in panic and ran into the streets. No damage or causalities were reported.

In Male, the capital of the Maldives, buildings were evacuated.

Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.

A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, most of them in Aceh.

2 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Natural Disasters

2 Responses to Today: Indonesia Earthquake: Tsunami Warning Issued Following Magnitude 8.6 Temblor

  1. Jennifer Doherty

    While the Earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. The increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. This in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the Earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. This increase of greenhouse gases is causing an additional warming of the Earth?s surface and atmosphere. A direct consequence of this is sea-level rise expansion, which is primarily due to the thermal expansion of oceans (water expands when heated), inducing the melting of ice sheets as global surface temperature increases.
    Forecasts for climate change by the 2,000 scientists on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project a rise in the global average surface temperature by 1.4 to 5.8°C from 1990 to 2100. This will result in a global mean sea level rise by an average of 5 mm per year over the next 100 years. Consequently, human-induced climate change will have ?deleterious effects? on ecosystems, socio-economic systems and human welfare.At the moment, especially high risks associated with the rise of the oceans are having a particular impact on the two archipelagic states of Western Polynesia: Tuvalu and Kiribati. According to UN forecasts, they may be completely inundated by the rising waters of the Pacific by 2050.According to the vast majority of scientific investigations, warming waters and the melting of polar and high-elevation ice worldwide will steadily raise sea levels. This will likely drive people off islands first by spoiling the fresh groundwater, which will kill most land plants and leave no potable water for humans and their livestock. Low-lying island states like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are the most prominent nations threatened in this way.“The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. The best solution is continue to recognize deterritorialized states as a normal states in public international law. The case of Kiribati and other small island states is a particularly clear call to action for more secure countries to respond to the situations facing these ‘most vulnerable nations’, as climate change increasingly impacts upon their lives.

  2. Pingback: Huge quakes off Indonesia stir panic, but no big tsunami

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>