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Indian Ocean Tsunami Resources

This week's deadly Indonesian tsunami carries echoes of the 2004 wave that killed nearly a quarter of a million people in Sumatra, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The waves were triggered by earthquakes along different sections of the same fault line, part of a geologically active perimeter called the Pacific Ring of Fire. NOVA covered the 2004 tsunami just months after it happened in Wave That Shook The World.
How are the two disasters different? The latest earthquake was measured at magnitude 7.7, significantly weaker than the 9.1-magnitude quake responsible for the 2004 tsunami, and it hit about 500 miles southeast of earlier rupture. Another big difference: The region should have been prepared for it. A new Indian Ocean seismic monitoring system came on line in 2006, designed to give residents enough advance warning to flee a coming tsunami. But in this case, the warning didn't come--or didn't come in time to save lives.

In conjunction with the premiere of The Wave That Shook the World, NOVA Online's editor-in-chief Peter Tyson examined the scientific groundwork (literally groundwork: mapping the seafloor and plate boundaries), monitoring technology, and public education that must all come together to make an effective early warning system. You can read a transcript of that program, learn more about how tsunamis begin and evolve, and check out a Q&A session with tsunami expert Lori Dengler on the NOVA Web site.

User Comments:

Because there were (still) so many deaths due to the recent tsunami, it seems like the public in Indonesia has not yet been adequately educated. "When the ground shakes, seek higher ground" should be a universal mantra for those finding themselves on or near any beach or coastline......as it has become for people living on or near the U.S. West Coast shoreline. The government of Indonesia needs to get the word out to its people about tsunami AND earthquake preparedness.

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