December 27, 2004

Shifting Geography

Whoa.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off Indonesia on Sunday morning moved the entire island of Sumatra about 100 feet to the southwest, pushing up a gigantic mass of water that collapsed into a tsunami and devastated shorelines around the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2004 05:27 PM

Comments

It won't take long before someone blames the Bush Administration for this.

Posted by: New Yorker at December 27, 2004 05:44 PM
YUP. AND:
PERSPECTIVE [Jonah Goldberg]

The earthquake moved the island of Sumatra 100 feet. I looked it up. Sumatra is 182,859 square miles. It has a mountain chain. California is 162,707 square miles.

It moved 100 feet.
Posted by: S at December 27, 2004 05:48 PM

This earthquake can be related to the July 21, 365 earthquake (M > 8), which was associated with a great tsunami, and was probably responsible for up to 9 m uplift of Western Crete;

A famous classical earthquake in the mediterranean. That tsunami must have devastated coastal regions throughout the region.

Posted by: chuck at December 27, 2004 06:53 PM

Oh, Michael, I can soooo top this...

Not only did it move the island, according to CNN, scientists are saying it actually slightly jolted the planet's rotation. "It causes the planet to wobble a little bit," they said, "but it's not going to turn Earth upside down."

Also, by some estimates, the force of the quake was equal to detonating a million atomic bombs. An approximated 6,200+ people were killed by waves that flooded the southern coast of India, alone. I have a ton of Indian friends, here. I'm still trying to get a hold of all of them to make sure their families are okay. It's been a crazy ass couple of days in the world. At least Yushchenko won.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at December 27, 2004 07:30 PM

I have a fear that this "100 feet" thing is a meme started by Drudge just to see if he could get away with it. It would've been great if the LAT piece had cited the geologist who said it.

Posted by: Cridland at December 27, 2004 09:53 PM

Yeah, Cridland, scientists are saying it's only 60 feet instead. I guess you win or something. The rotation of the whole frickin' planet was affected and twenty-three thousand people are still dead, though. Kudos to you for being so smart.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at December 27, 2004 10:49 PM

Check that...according to the NY Times, it's officially over 25,000 now.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at December 27, 2004 10:52 PM

McEntire, that was rude, unearned, and not on point. If you must play a round of dueling compassion: I cut my four-figure check to the Red Cross yesterday... Did you cut yours?

The beauty of the internet is that it shows that actual facts are not always emotionally gratifying. We can "fact check your ass," says Ken Layne. This particular meme is such a cute round number (100 feet!) that no one seems interested in a citation. I think you've fallen in love with a rumor, or it least the capacity for condescension by which you think it enobles you.

When Drudge posts links to stories about three-headed babies, promise me you won't get too worried about the trend.

Posted by: Cridland at December 28, 2004 07:50 AM

New Yorker said:

"It won't take long before someone blames the Bush Administration for this."

You can read my response here: Thoughts on the Asian Disaster

Jean Dudley

Posted by: Jean Dudley at December 28, 2004 10:06 AM

Jean Dudley:

So I was right. It didn't take long before some loon would connect Bush to the disaster.

Posted by: New Yorker at December 28, 2004 11:24 AM

CRIDLAND...

Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I owe you an apology. When I wrote what I did, I was pretty swept up in the emotion of all of this and wasn't thinking clearly. Kudos for sending as much as you did. I would send that much if I had the money. Again, I'm sorry. No hard feelings, I hope.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at December 29, 2004 03:03 AM

If you're going to be reasonable about this, it sure takes the sport out of it! Totten seems to encourage clarity in us. No hard feelings!

Since our exchange, the death toll has risen by a factor six. There is MUCH to be emotional about.

PS- Truth is, B-ton is the least studious campus in the system, at least it was back in the day.

Posted by: Cridland at December 29, 2004 06:17 AM

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/env99/env275.htm

-- "That earthquake has changed the map," US Geological Survey expert Ken Hudnut told AFP.

-- "Based on seismic modeling, some of the SMALLER ISLANDS OFF THE SOUTHWEST COAST of Sumatra may have moved to the southwest by about 20 meters. That is a lot of slip."

-- The NORTHWESTERN TIP of the Indonesian territory of Sumatra may also have shifted to the southwest by around 36 meters (120 feet), Hudnut said.

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