2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami


2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami


  • Earthquake of magnitude 9.1 (USGS).
  • Epicentre 256km off Banda Aceh on Sumatra's west coast.
  • Hypocentre depth of 30km below sea level (10km below sea bed).
  • Rupture of the Sunda Megathrust fault (assumed dormant) 1,300km long.
  • Destructive plate boundary between Indo-Australian Plate subducting beneath the Burma Plate at 6cm/year.
  • Earthquake of 9.1 in Sunda Megathrust caused seabed to rise by 15m for over 1,500km.
  • Earthquake released 1/8th of all earthquake energy released in past 100 years.


  • *SOCIAL*Bangladesh was not badly affected despite being closest & low-lying.
  • Kalutara, Sri Lanka was badly hit with villages & tourist resorts flooded on coast.
  • Indian state of Kerala hit despite shield of Sri Lanka due to refracting waves.
  • Beach resorts on Phi Phi Island decimated.
  • Aceh province of Sumatra most badly hit - closest to epicentre.
  • Many coastal populations were taken by surprise due to lack of tsunami warning systems in Indian Ocean - surrounded by LEDCs that could not afford the system for such a low-frequency event.
  • Death toll 170,000 in Indonesia alone.
  • 1.7 million people displaced.
  • *ECONOMIC*Many communities affected were dependent on fishing industry (250,000 employed).
  • 66% fishing fleet lost.
  • Loss of tourism - people not returning for psychological reasons.
  • Farming industry cannot operate productively as irrigation is difficult & fields swamped by saltwater.
  • *ENVIRONMENTAL* Coastal ecosystems i.e. mangroves, coral reefs & forests destroyed by wave surge.
  • Many more ecosystems polluted by human and chemical waste in the floodwater.
  • Arable land covered in layer of salt - soil becomes infertile.

Overall summary

Responses:Huge amounts of humanitarian aid required - focus on sanitation & fresh water (UNICEF, Red Cross).Total $14 billion of aid.Asian development bank handled money.US provided aircraft for Search & Rescue surveying & transport of aid cargo i.e. food, shelter & dry ice to preserve the dead. Corruption hampered aid efforts - Sri Lanka refused Israeli aid efforts. Military forces of the affected countries set up field hospitals, refugee camps & clinics. GSK sponsored project sending 700 nurses to India. Concerns raised over the need for a global tsunami detection system - similar to DART system in Pacific. Tsunami warning system being implemented in response. 4,500 troops mobilised by various militaries including Australia & Singapore. Wealthier nations UK provide transport for the evacuation of their nationals. 




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