Research Proposal: Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004

Pages: 9 (3301 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Geography  ·  Buy This Paper

Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

The tsunami that occurred in the Indian Ocean on the 26th of December 2004 caused more than two-hundred thousand deaths and extensive economic and physical damage - including environmental damage to the countries in the region. The Tsunami was triggered by an underground seismic event that displaced ocean water and created a massive wave that inundated the coastal regions of the area.

There has been a long history of tsunamis in the region as well as in other areas of the world. The 2004 tsunami was the most devastating and destructive in recent history. One of the aspects that stand out in this event is that the number of deaths in the region has been directly attributed to the lack of an adequate early warning system. In recent years efforts have been underway to remedy this situation. Another critique is that in the aftermath of the disaster there was little coordination and planning in terms of the assistance and aid to the region - although this assistance was extensive and did help to reduce the after effects of the tsunami, such as starvation and disease. Central to the studies and reports on this event is that future planning should be more extensive and should also be cognizant of the fact that future tsunamis in this sensitive geological area are likely to occur again.

1. Introduction devastating Tsunami occurred in the Indian Ocean on the 26th of December 2004.

A large mass of water was generated by an extremely powerful earthquake and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the region. Damage amounting to billions of dollars was caused by this event as well as leaving devastation in its wake. The social and cultural consequences of the tsunami are still being felt in some areas.

While a tsunami is a natural event and hard to predict, many reports and studies of the events of December, 2004 suggest that much more could have been done to reduce the loss of life and damage to property through there use of a more adequate early warning systems. This paper will provide a comprehensive overview of this aspect as well as a detailed breakdown of the events that occurred on the 26th of December, 2004. This discussion will also explore the causes of the tsunami as well as the possible ways of improving warning systems and relief mechanisms that can prevent a large scale loss of life in any future events of this kind.

2. Overview

It is important to realize that the 2004 Tsunami was not the first occurrence of this phenomenon in this region. As one report states,

Scientists have found evidence which indicates that the 2004 tsunami that inundated Indian Ocean coastlines, leaving behind a trail of destruction, was not a first-time occurrence, as the mega waves have repeatedly washed over a Thai island during the last 2,800 years.

Anonymous. 2004 tsunami was not the first one in Indian Ocean!) tsunami is described as a "...distinctive secondary earthquake-related hazard" and a "seismic sea wave." (Smith 89) in other words, a tsunami is a movement of sea water that is related to an earthquake underneath the sea. In more specific terms, what occurs is that there is a movement or displacement of the tectonic plates on the ocean floor caused by the earthquake. This causes a massive displacement of ocean water, which results in the rapid and devastating large-scale flooding of coastal areas. There can also be other causes such as the "...collapse of volcanic islands (e.g. Krakatoa in 1883), large rock falls into confined bays and meteorite impacts..." (Smith, 2004, p. 89) the following is a clear and precise description of a tsunami caused by an earthquake, as was case in the December 2004 event..

A a] tsunami may be generated any time tectonic plates scrub together beneath a body of water severely enough to cause one plate to drive beneath another, a process known as subduction. When this occurs, the seabed buckles, thrusting a column of water upward. Once the column reaches the surface, this mass of water or set of waves races at speeds sometimes in excess of 700 km/h, potentially devastating any adjacent land areas (Escaleras and Register, 2008)

This phenomenon has been known to occur throughout human history. One of the earliest evidence that we have of a tsunami was an event in the Aegean Sea in 1480 BC. This was the result of a volcanic explosion on the island of Santorini. The resulting tsunami is historically given as the cause of the destruction of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete. (Escaleras & Register, 2008)

In more recent times there have been many recorded reports of tsunamis and their devastating effect on human society and life. As one study points out, there have been approximately 202 tsunamis reported worldwide since 1996. (Escaleras and Register, 2008) the worst of these modern occurrences was the event in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. One of the reasons given for the devastating results of this tsunami was that the epicenter of the tsunami was only about 30 km from the shores of the densely populated Indonesian island of Sumatra. (Escaleras & Register, 2008)

It is important to note that Tsunami's have been reported from many regions and areas over the years. For example in the Pacific Ocean tsunamis have been responsible for great loss of life in the past, with over 50,000 coastal residents killed during the past 100 years. (Smith, 2004, p. 89) in this region the most active region for earthquakes and tsunamis is around the Japan-Taiwan island arc. (Smith, 2004, p. 89)

There have also been major earthquakes in the Andaman Sea and further South along the Sumatra, Java and Sunda sections of one of the earths greatest fault zones. (Pararas-Carayannis) the Andaman Sea is a very important and active area for earthquake and seismic activity and "...a total of 348 earthquakes were recorded in the area." (Pararas-Carayannis) However, the event of December 2004 was one of the most devastating tsunamis ever recorded in this region

3. The sequence of events.

Early on the morning of December 26, 2004 a magnitude 9.3 earthquake struck off the Northwest coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. "The tsunami waves that struck South and South-East Asia in the early hours of 26 December 2004 claimed the lives of at least 283-000 people and displaced a further 1.1 million in the region" (Greenhough, Jazeel, and Massey) the tsunami was devastating and affected many areas along the coast, almost wiping out areas across southeastern Asia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Myanmar and islands in the Andaman Sea and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. (Pararas-Carayannis) the extent of the damage of the tsunami was not limited to these areas however, and it caused damage as well as killed people more than 2,000 kilometers away, in the Seychelles and in Somalia. (Pararas-Carayannis)

The events that led up to the deaths of more then two hundred thousand people can be summarized as follows. As noted, the earthquake was the result of a "...fault where the oceanic portion of the Indian Plate slides under Sumatra, part of the Eurasian Plate." (Anonymous: 2008. The December 26, 2004 Sumatran Tsunami) in essence, what took place was that the ocean floor was changed and pushed upwards by the earthquake. This movement of the ocean floor caused the creation of a wave that was possibly more then 25 meters high. This wave moved rapidly towards the shoreline and created the death and devastation that was experienced that day.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the moment magnitude of the earthquake at 9. This is an extremely high reading and makes this earthquake the fourth largest in the world since 1900, as well as being the largest since the 1964 Alaska earthquake. (Pararas-Carayannis)

However, what is of significance as well is that after the beginning of this event there was no immediate tsunami warning issues to the residents of the coastal regions.

The large tsunami which struck 11 of the nations that border the Indian Ocean was a complete surprise for the people living there..." (Pararas-Carayannis) This fact has become a major source of debate and contention and has resulted in efforts to improve the early earning system in the Indian Ocean

4. The impact of the Tsunami

The most immediate effect of the Tsunami was obviously the loss of life and the destruction that it left in its wake. "...the focus of media attention and government and international efforts were concentrated on the immediate site of death and destruction." (Rigg et al. 2005) the rising death toll from this disaster was horrendous and increased as more and more bodies were discovered. It is understandable that the focus of attention should be on the loss of human life and the damage caused.

In this regard it should also be noted that the economic and other… [END OF PREVIEW]

Physical Geology the 'Indian Ocean Tsunami Thesis


Natural Disaster Tsunami Term Paper


Tsunamis Term Paper


Tsunami in Indonesia Term Paper


Development and Disasters Essay


View 30 other related papers  >>

Cite This Research Proposal:

APA Format

Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004.  (2008, November 5).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tsunami-indian-ocean-2004/3972

MLA Format

"Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004."  5 November 2008.  Web.  16 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tsunami-indian-ocean-2004/3972>.

Chicago Format

"Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004."  Essaytown.com.  November 5, 2008.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tsunami-indian-ocean-2004/3972.