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Experts had predicted Sumatra quake

P Rajendran in New York | March 30, 2005 08:48 IST

Researchers in Britain had predicted that, following the December 26 earthquake, another one could occur in the sea off the west coast of Sumatra.

A paper published in the March 17 issue of Nature predicted that the increase in stress on the Sunda plate affected by the December earthquake could spread further south.

Indonesia quake killed at least 1000

And indeed, the epicentre of the recent earthquake was about 200 km south of the one in December.

The paper, by John McCloskey, Suleyman S Nalbant and Sandy Steacy of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, was wrong only about two things: it estimated the earthquake's magnitude would be between 7.0 and 7.5 instead of the 8.7 seen, and in saying that a tsunami would follow.

"Previous work has indicated that this area may already be advanced in the seismic cycle," the paper said.

"Although subduction zone event in the Sunda trench has been made more likely by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake [of December 26], at present the increase in stress is localised on the north of this segment. The effect may be expected to spread further south in the months ahead," it read.

Waves of Destruction

The paper warned that earthquakes on the Sunda trench had caused fatal tsunamis in 1833 and 1861.

McCloskey told that "one great indicator that you're going to have an earthquake is that you've just had one."

Hopefully, earthquakes only come in twos.

Tsunami Strikes: The Complete Coverage

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