2004 Tsunami Highlights


CNN Editorial Research

Here is some general information about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. On December 26, 2004, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 9.1 struck the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

National statistical centers on environmental information:
227,898 people were killed or listed as missing and presumed dead.

Material losses in the Indian Ocean region amounted to $ 10 billion.


Tsunamis are formed by a displacement of water – a landslide, a volcanic eruption or, as in this case, a boundary slide between two of the earth’s tectonic plates – plates of rock 50 to 650 feet ( 15 to 200 meters) thick that carry Earth’s continents and seas across an underground ocean of much warmer semi-solid matter.

The December 26, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean was caused by a landslide of approximately 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) of the border between the Indian and Burmese plates off the west coast of North Sumatra. The convergence of other plates is straining the region, and at the epicenter of the earthquake, the Indian Plate is moving northeast 2 inches (5 centimeters) per year relative to the Burmese Plate. Aftershocks were distributed along the edge of the plate from the epicenter to near Andaman Island.

The magnitude 9.1 earthquake was the strongest since the March 28, 1964 earthquake in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. It was the third strongest since 1900.

The two strongest earthquakes, May 22, 1960 in Chile (9.5) and March 28, 1964 in Alaska (9.2), also produced tsunamis.

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