08 October 2009
The Big One -- Just Around the Corner?
News that the scientists (from the Bandung Institute of Technology and Singapore's Earth Observatory) have now done their analyzing and have determined that the recent earthquakes in West Sumatra, Indonesia, were not the "big one" that many of them are predicting to occur. Estimates of when the fateful day range over the next ten years. It would seem that predicting big earthquakes is not always an exact science. However, like anything else practice makes perfect, so presumably with more data, the guesstimates can become more accurate.
The scientists are predicting that the big one is likely to be off a magnitude of 8.8+ on the Richter Scale. Nevertheless, this depends on whether the earth sees fit to release all this energy that continues to build up over time in one big burst or a couple of smaller bursts of energy. The scientists, it seems, are leaning towards a big one. The reason being that the most recent earthquakes have not released enough of the pressure forcing the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates together.
Now, an earthquake of a magnitude of 8.8+ is likely to unleash a wave of destruction in the form of a tsunami. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Aceh and other places in the region in 2004 was of a magnitude 9.1. With the predicted earthquake's centre expected to be just off the coast of West Sumatra, and somewhere between Padang and Bengkulu, then the damage and death counts are likely to be high.
My wife and I have family in that part of Sumatra, and it is always a worry when we hear of earthquakes in the region. So, to think that the big one might be just around the corner is not good news.
(Graphic courtesy of here)