The Formation of the 2004 Tsunami

The Formation of the 2004 Tsunami

On December 26th, 2004, one of the world’s worst natural disasters took place, without warning, without mercy, only hope. This essay will comprehensively explain the four different stages (subduction, earthquake formation, tsunami formation and wave formation) that were involved in the production of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.

The first process that produced the Tsunami was the subduction of the Indo- Australian and Burma plate. Subduction occurs when the earth’s mantle produces convection currents which causes the earth’s tectonic plates (in this case the Indo- Australian and Burma plate) to push together. Because of this massive amount of pressure, one of the two plates “cracks” under the pressure and is forced underneath the other. As you can see in the diagram below the Indo- Australian plate was pushed underneath the Burma plate. These two plates have been pushing against each other for about 150 years at a rate of about roughly 6cm per year. When the subduction occurred, the plate boundary (located 250Kms off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia) gets pushed up and the next process occurs.

The second process that produced the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was the formation of the earthquake. When the plate boundary was pushed up in the first process, the earth’s crust was forced to break. When the buildup of pressure is released, seismic (shock) waves are created. These seismic waved radiate out from the epicenter which is located 35kms below the Indians Ocean’s surface. This results in the earth’s surface shaking. This is called an earthquake. The earthquake the produced the Boxing day Tsunami had a magnitude of 9.3 and caused to earth to shake for 8 minutes. The formation of an earthquake is shown in the diagram below.

The next process is the formation of a tsunami. It occurs because of a movement of the sea floor caused by events such as an earthquake. This can result in billions of tons of water setting off a series of long waves that...

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