Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004



26 DEC 2004: TSUNAMI CAUSES DEATH AND DESTRUCTION IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

26 December 2004: More than 7,000 people have been killed across southern Asia in massive sea surges triggered by the strongest earthquake in the world for 40 years. The quake struck under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia, generating a destructive tsunami hitting Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives and Bangladesh.

Detailed technical/scientific information will be posted on the ITSU web site as it becomes available. Worldwide, tsunami experts are investigating the event.

This is the Tsunami Warning Bulletin issued by PTWC:

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 002
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 0204Z 26 DEC 2004

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN EXCEPT
ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

.................. TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ..................

ATTENTION: NOTE REVISED MAGNITUDE.

THIS MESSAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING
OR WATCH IN EFFECT.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

 ORIGIN TIME -  0059Z 26 DEC 2004
 COORDINATES -   3.4 NORTH   95.7 EAST
 LOCATION    -  OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATERA
 MAGNITUDE   -  8.5

EVALUATION
 REVISED MAGNITUDE BASED ON ANALYSIS OF MANTLE WAVES.
 THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC. NO DESTRUCTIVE     
 TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS FOR THE PACIFIC BASIN BASED ON HISTORICAL
 EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI DATA.

 THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A TSUNAMI NEAR THE EPICENTER.                                                        

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE BULLETINS
FOR ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

Pacific Disaster Center on Maui launches the Indian Ocean Tsunami Geospatial Information Service

The Pacific Disaster Center on Maui today launched the Indian Ocean Tsunami Geospatial Information Service to support emergency managers responding to the tsunami disaster in South and Southeast Asia.

The new information service is part of the Center's Asia Pacific Natural Hazards Information Network (APHNIN http://apnhin.pdc.org), a resource for disaster managers to tap into high-quality geospatial data to reduce disaster risk and vulnerability in the region. The new service will provide information specific to the tsunami that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.
 
Accurate geospatial information is an absolutely indispensable resource during disaster response and recovery. This service will support emergency managers and relief agencies as they respond to this tragic event.
 
Specifically, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Geospatial Information Service will support emergency managers by providing geospatial information including baseline Landsat imagery, SRTM-derived shaded relief images, LANDSCAN-derived population density, detailed coastlines, damage polygons, and high-resolution imagery as it becomes available.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Geospatial Information Service can be accessed by ESRI GIS applications at www.pdc.org <http://www.pdc.org>; Map Service name = APNHIN_PDC_Tsunami_Response."

The Pacific Disaster Center provides applied information research and analysis for the development of more effective policies, institutions, programs, and information products for disaster-management and humanitarian assistance communities of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
 
Allen Clark, senior research fellow and executive director of the Pacific Disaster Center, said the Pacific Disaster Center takes scientific information and creates a disaster notification alert to all emergency managers in Hawaii and elsewhere. "The real tragedy of all this is that the system is there, the technology is there, the capability is there, it just wasn't in place in the Indian Ocean when the thing hit."
 
Charles E. Morrison, president of the East-West Center, said the East-West Center and the Pacific Disaster Center "stand prepared" to do what they can to enhance tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean. Morrison said the two Centers may organize and host an international workshop for South and Southeast Asian countries to discuss.

[received by IOC 1 Jan 2005]

Girl's sea warning saved a hundred

From the Times of London (online) 1 January 2005

Girl's sea warning saved a hundred

A GIRL aged ten saved a hundred fellow tourists from the tsunami
because of a geography lesson about the giant waves. Tilly Smith urged
her family to get off Maikhao beach in Thailand after seeing the tide
rush out and boats on the horizon begin to bob violently.

The youngster, recalling a recent school project on quakes, turned to
her mother Penny and said: "Mummy, we must get off the beach now. I
think there is going to be a tsunami." Penny and her husband Colin
alerted others and they cleared the Phuket beach just in time. It was
one of the few beaches where no one has been reported killed or
seriously injured.

Last night Tilly, from Oxshott, Surrey, told The Sun that credit for
her quick-thinking should go to Andrew Kearney, her geography teacher
at Danes Hill Preparatory School.

Frequently asked Questions about Tsunami Warning Network(s)

Q: What happens after a warning goes out?  Has the U.S., or another nation been able to evacuate coastal areas in response to a warning, and if so, how quickly? 

A: Both the PTWC and WC/ATWC are regional Tsunami Warning Centers. They are responsible for issuing local tsunami advisories, alerts and warnings for local tsunamis triggered by a local seismic event.  When a warning for a local tsunami is issued, each State’s Emergency Managers (EM) Office is quickly notified.  The decision to evacuate a coastal area rests with each responsible EM.  The PTWC also serves as the Tsunami Warning Center for the Pacific. Under this mandate, PTWC issues tsunami bulletins, advisories and warnings for teletsunamis.  For such Pacific Basin teletsunamis, PTWC relies on its network of national and international seismic and oceanographic stations to pinpoint the exact location and magnitude of a seismic event, and determine whether a tsunami has been generated.  If PTWC determines that a destructive tsunami has been generated, tsunami warnings are issued. These warning include seismic data, potential tsunami (wave) heights and projected impact (travel) times.

As an example, a teletsunami generated by a South American seismic event would take 12-13 hours to reach Hawaii.  For a local Hawaii, Alaska, or West Coast seismic event generating a tsunami, travel times for the immediate area are minimal. For such local events, it is critical that the public is fully aware of tsunami hazards – and the need to immediately evacuate the coastal areas.  For the States of Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, tsunami sirens are used to alert the public. Additionally, NOAA, under its National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) has embarked upon an aggressive inter-governmental, multi-pronged effort to (1) improve the US’s tsunami warning capabilities (2) improve tsunami hazard assessment (produce local tsunami inundation maps) and (3) develop localized tsunami hazard mitigation programs including public awareness and community awareness (TsunamiReady Communities).      

And yes, other nations (Japan in particular) as well as the U.S. (in Hawaii) have been able to quickly and effectively evacuate key coastal population centers in direct response to Regional and PTWC-issued tsunami warnings. 

Q: Why haven’t the other Indian Ocean Nations joined as members of the United Nation’s UNESCO/IOC/International Coordination Group on Tsunamis?

A: The UNESCO/IOC/IGC/ITSU in its Master Plan has recognized the need to establish tsunami warning centers for areas of the earth beyond the Pacific Basin that are vulnerable to Tsunamis. These areas include the Indian Ocean Basin. UNESCO/IOC/IGC/ITSU has convened a Working Group on the Tsunami Warning System in the Southwest Pacific and Indian Ocean and has encouraged non-ITSU Member States in the Indian Ocean basin to contact the IOC Secretariat to request membership in the IGC/ITSU.  As a result of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the IOC/IGC based on its mandate and experience with ICG/ITSU, will lead an effort to expand the currently existing system in the Pacific to the World Ocean to ensure that appropriate warning systems are available in all regions of the world that are prone to Tsunamis. This decision is fully consistent with the current initiative to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems.  For that purpose immediate consultations will be undertaken with the Officers of ICG/ITSU and representatives of concerned countries.

 

 

 

Indonesian tsunami: Director-General convenes the Task force on prevention of natural disasters

On Wednesday 29 December, Koïchiro Matsuura, convened the Task force on the prevention of natural disasters, in order to study UNESCO’s response and its participation in international aid that is materialising following the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the earthquake that, on 26 December, ravaged the western coast of northern Sumatra, hitting eight Indian Ocean countries.

UNESCO’s Director-General first expressed his deep sorrow in face of “the enormity of the catastrophe and the destructive power of the tidal wave” that has killed tens of thousands and injured hundreds of thousands of people, obliterated infrastructures and destroyed homes, schools and cultural heritage in this region of the world. Inviting all UNESCO’s field offices in the region to proceed with assessing needs and to present suggestions to him, Mr. Matsuura asked that “the entire Secretariat coordinate in order to make available to these countries the expertise acquired by the Organization in natural disaster and post-conflict situations.” “We must work towards establishing risk-prevention policies, and towards extending warning systems available to the greatest number,” he added. “This is a domain in which we have the means and the experience to act effectively and quickly. This should be one of UNESCO’s major contributions, in the short, medium and long term.”

 “It is too soon to talk about the reconstruction of the school system in the devastated regions, but we must ensure that there is no interruption in schooling,” said Mr. Matsuura. “As a large number of young people risk being left handicapped, it is essential that we develop rapidly our activities in inclusive education.” The education sector is mobilizing all of its partners, notably its teacher network, in order to bring swift psychological and pedagogical support to young people, and to establish structures that will allow the school programme to continue until schools are rebuilt. One contribution UNESCO could make is adding natural disaster prevention classes to school curricula. Another possibility under consideration for the future is the creation of a UNESCO Chair in risk evaluation and management.

 An inventory of natural and cultural heritage sites that have been damaged or destroyed is already underway, the culture sector and the World Heritage Centre having established contact with the countries concerned by the disaster. The Director General has asked that attention be paid also to those sites that are not on the World Heritage list, but that present particular interest as ecosystems. He therefore asked for an environmental assessment to be launched, in order to measure the impact on the biosphere of certain animal or plant species becoming extinct.

 As risk prevention is a major priority, the sciences sector will examine, in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the possibility of extending to the Indian Ocean the Tsunami Warning System established in the Pacific by the International Coordination Group. The system, created by the IOC in 1968, includes 26 Member States. As the expertise acquired in the Pacific can be usefully applied to the Indian Ocean, Mr. Matsuura has decided to bring up the question at international conferences upcoming in January in Mauritius and Kobe (Japan). The sciences sector will also work with the education sector to set up programmes in natural disaster prevention and sustainable development.

 The information and communications sector, relying on its experience in establishing community radios, will study the necessary means for participating, on one hand, in setting up a natural disaster warning system that will effectively alert populations, and on the other, providing support for distance education programmes for displaced people.

 Mr Matsuura asked that the entire Secretariat mobilize and coordinate in order to reinforce the effectiveness of actions undertaken at all levels, at the same time ensuring that its initiatives complement the efforts of the United Nations system and the international community. “Beyond the urgent relief provided at the demand of stricken countries, we must become involved in the medium and long term. It is not UNESCO’s vocation to give urgent humanitarian and medical assistance, but as a full-fledged member of the United Nations system, it must be prepared to respond appropriately, within its fields of competence, to the needs of suffering people,” said Mr. Matsuura, emphasizing once again the absolute necessity of bringing about a “genuine culture of prevention on a world scale.”

BACKGROUND NOTES ON THE INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI

Paris, 30 December 2004

The phenomenon we call “tsunami” is a series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated primarily by earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor. Underwater volcanic eruptions and landslides can also generate tsunamis. The tsunami waves propagate across the deep ocean with a speed exceeding 800 kilometers per hour. Waves as they approach the coastlines slow-down and raise in height up to 15 meters or more, producing extreme damage at the coast.

UNESCO is involved in tsunami warning and mitigation through its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The IOC, established in 1960, is a body with functional autonomy within UNESCO, established to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity-building, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making process of its Member States.

IOC established the International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (ICG/ITSU) in 1968.  The main purpose of the group is to assure that tsunami watches, warning and advisory bulletins are disseminated throughout the Pacific to member states in accordance with procedures outlined in the Communication Plan for the Tsunami Warning System. The Group has a membership of 26 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Samoa, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States of America. The network includes national tsunami warning centres, regional tsunami warning centres (PTWC, Hawaii; WC/ATWC, Alaska; NWPTIC, Japan; CPPT, Tahiti; and SNAM, Chile) and the International Tsunami Information Centre (ITIC) in Honolulu, Hawaii.

ITIC supports ICG/ITSU by monitoring the activities of the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (TWSP), coordinating tsunami technology transfer among Member States interested in establishing regional and national tsunami warning systems, and acting as a clearinghouse for tsunami preparedness and mitigation activities. Every year the ITIC organizes a 2-week training course for professionals from pacific countries dealing with tsunami warning and mitigation.

The Richard H. Hagemeyer Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) serves as the operational headquarters for the TWSP.  Both the PTWC and ITIC have been hosted by the USA National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service Pacific Region since their inception in 1965.  The ITIC is further supported by Chile’s Servicio Hidrografico y Oceanografico de la Armada. The TWS is a coordinated international effort currently shared by the UNESCO/IOC ITSU and USA NOAA.

The ITSU system makes use of the hundreds of seismic stations throughout the world that are available in real, or near-real, time to locate earthquakes capable of generating Tsunamis and analyze the faulting properties of the earthquake in order to ascertain the dominant direction of energy release and propagation. It has near real time access via satellite and telephone to over 100 water level stations throughout the Pacific that can be used to verify the generation and possible severity of a tsunami. The system disseminates tsunami information and warning messages to well over 100 points scattered across the Pacific.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami

On Sunday 26 December 2004 at 8:14 p.m. EST, within minutes following an alarm signaling a strong earthquake in the Indian Ocean, NOAA’s Tsunami Warning Centers in Hawaii and Alaska issued information bulletins to all ICG/ITSU member states and other Pacific nations indicating that a magnitude 8.0 earthquake (later upgraded to M9.0 by the U. S. Geological Survey) had occurred off the west coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.  According to the agreed-upon procedures for the International Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific, this event did not pose a threat to the Pacific.  The PTWC (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center), however, continued to monitor the event.

Within a few hours, Vasily Titov, associate director of the Tsunami Inundation Mapping Efforts (TIME) at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Wash. and his counterpart in Japan, Kenji Satake, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology,  produced preliminary estimates of the main features of the event. Tsunami travel time maps were quickly prepared using software developed by Dr. Viacheslav Gusiakov, Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, Novosibirsk, RUSSIA). (see all model outputs and maps on http://ioc.unesco.org/itsu/contents.php?id=135). Information was posted on the ITSU web site (http://ioc.unesco.org/itsu ) as from Monday 27 December 2004.

85 percent of all tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean, generated in the regions where the main tectonic plates forming the floor of the Pacific collide against themselves or against the continental plates that surround the ocean basin, in an area known as the Ring of Fire.  The Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas also have histories of some locally destructive tsunamis. Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean have been rare and far part in time. This might explain why no tsunami warning system has been  developed in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean tsunami is now reported to be one of the strongest in the world for the past 40 years.  More than 100,000 lives have been lost and material damage is tremendous.

IOC based on its mandate and experience with ICG/ITSU, will lead an effort to expand the currently existing system in the Pacific to the World Ocean to ensure that appropriate warning systems are available in all regions of the world that are prone to Tsunamis. This decision is fully consistent with the current initiative to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems.  For that purpose immediate consultations will be undertaken with the Officers of ICG/ITSU and representatives of concerned countries. Furthermore, representatives from all Member States of the Commission will be invited to participate in a Special Session  during the coming XXIIIrd Assembly of the IOC in July of 2005 to set up and adopt the Policy and Technical bases of such a system at the shortest possible delay.

Dr Patricio Bernal
Executive Secretary IOC

PRESS RELEASE: UNESCO offers tsunami assistance to countries in South Asia

The following information is now available for Press and General Public

PRESS RELEASE: UNESCO offers tsunami assistance to countries in South Asia

30-12-2004 12:00 pm The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has offered UNESCO’s support to the countries devastated by the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the ensuing tsunami, and expressed his sorrow at the tragic loss of life in the region.

Writing to the King of Thailand, and to the presidents of India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, the Director-General voiced his “deep sadness and extended his “profound sympathy” to the families and friends of the victims of this unprecedented disaster.

Mr Matsuura said that “UNESCO stands ready” to assist the national authorities within its fields of competence and “give whatever support it can to the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator’s efforts.”

Priority will be given to extending existing programmes regarding the study and monitoring of tsunamis and earthquakes to the Indian Ocean and other vulnerable areas such as the Caribbean, and teaching people how to prepare for, and cope with such disasters.

Expert missions will be sent to assess immediate, medium and long-term needs in the Organization’s other fields of competence. In education, for example, UNESCO will mobilize its partners, including professional teachers organizations and NGOs, to provide psychological support to traumatized children and orphans. It will also look at ways of helping displaced children and children left handicapped by the disaster to continue their schooling.

Several sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List were hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Among the damaged cultural sites are the Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications in Sri Lanka; and, in India, Mahabalipuram and the Sun Temple of Koranak. Natural sites damaged include the Ujung Kulon National Park and Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra, both in Indonesia. UNESCO will send missions to assess damage to these sites and decide on appropriate action.

UNESCO will also undertake a study of the disaster’s impact on the biosphere and examine ways in which man-made environmental damage, such as deforestation or the destruction of mangroves and coral reefs, may have aggravated the impact of the tsunami.

The Organization’s existing programmes already provide the framework for these activities. The International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (ICG/ITSU), operated by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), is the only tsunami warning system anywhere. It
has been seeking the support required to extend its activities to the Indian Ocean and other regions, and already last year recommended the development of a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean.

UNESCO’s Earthquake Programme features among the Organization’s risk preparedness and disaster mitigation activities, promoting a better understanding of the distribution in time and location of natural hazards and of their intensity. It also helps establish reliable seismological networks and provides expertise for rational land use plans and safe construction.

Important opportunities to rally support for the extension of early warning systems as well as natural disaster prevention and mitigation, including public awareness campaigns and education programmes, will arise next month at two major United Nations conferences.

January 10 to 14, the Mauritius International Meeting will address the multiple environmental, economic and social challenges facing the world’s 51 small island developing States, which are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. In Mauritius UNESCO will emphasize the importance of equipping youth with the knowledge and skills they require for their future, and the role of culture in the sustainable development of small island developing States.

This meeting will be followed by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, January 18-22. UNESCO will chair three sessions on: how education can save lives when natural disaster strikes; cultural heritage risk management; and global initiatives to improve knowledge and the capacity to deal with floods and landslides.

Original Source: GO HERE

 

 

Tsunami warning messages related to the Indian Ocean tsunami

The following messages were transmitted to tsunami warning centres in the Pacific Region between 26 and 27 December 2004:

_______________________________________________________________

ITIC Tsunami Bulletin Board

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 003

PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS

ISSUED AT 1535Z 27 DEC 2004

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN EXCEPT

ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

.................. TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ..................

THIS MESSAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING

OR WATCH IN EFFECT.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0059Z 26 DEC 2004

COORDINATES - 3.4 NORTH 95.7 EAST

LOCATION - OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATERA

MAGNITUDE - 9.0

EVALUATION

SOME ENERGY FROM YESTERDAYS TSUNAMI IN THE INDIAN OCEAN HAS

LEAKED INTO THE PACIFIC BASIN... PROBABLY FROM SOUTH OF THE

AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT. THIS ENERGY HAS PRODUCED MINOR

SEA LEVEL FLUCTUATIONS AT MANY PLACES IN THE PACIFIC. FOR

EXAMPLE...

50 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT CALLAO CHILE

19 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT IQUIQUE CHILE

13 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT PAGO PAGO AMERICAN SAMOA

11 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT SUVA FIJI

50 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT WAITANGI CHATHAM IS NEW ZEALAND

65 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT JACKSON BAY NEW ZEALAND

18 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT PORT VILA VANUATU

06 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT HILO HAWAII USA

22 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA USA

HOWEVER... AT MANZANILLO MEXICO SEA LEVEL FLUCTUATIONS WERE

AS MUCH AS 2.6 METERS CREST-TO-TROUGH PROBABLY DUE TO FOCUSING

OF ENERGY BY THE EAST PACIFIC RISE AS WELL AS LOCAL RESONANCES.

THIS IS TO ADVISE THAT SMALL SEA LEVEL CHANGES COULD CONTINUE

TO BE OBSERVED ACROSS THE PACIFIC OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO

UNTIL ALL ENERGY FROM THIS EVENT IS EVENTUALLY DISSIPATED.

THIS WILL BE THE FINAL BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE BULLETINS

FOR ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

____________________________________________________________

ITIC Tsunami Bulletin Board

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 002

PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS

ISSUED AT 0204Z 26 DEC 2004

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN EXCEPT

ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

.................. TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ..................

ATTENTION: NOTE REVISED MAGNITUDE.

THIS MESSAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING

OR WATCH IN EFFECT.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0059Z 26 DEC 2004

COORDINATES - 3.4 NORTH 95.7 EAST

LOCATION - OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATERA

MAGNITUDE - 8.5

EVALUATION

REVISED MAGNITUDE BASED ON ANALYSIS OF MANTLE WAVES.

THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC. NO DESTRUCTIVE

TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS FOR THE PACIFIC BASIN BASED ON HISTORICAL

EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI DATA.

THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A TSUNAMI NEAR THE EPICENTER.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE BULLETINS

FOR ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

______________________________________________________________

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001

PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS

ISSUED AT 0114Z 26 DEC 2004

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN EXCEPT

ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

.................. TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ..................

THIS MESSAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING

OR WATCH IN EFFECT.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0059Z 26 DEC 2004

COORDINATES - 3.4 NORTH 95.7 EAST

LOCATION - OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATERA

MAGNITUDE - 8.0

EVALUATION

THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC. NO DESTRUCTIVE

TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS BASED ON HISTORICAL EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI

DATA.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE BULLETINS

FOR ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.

___________________________________________________________

 

 

How the wave has moved across the ocean

On this page we are displaying a number of images and animations that are the result of mathematical models that calculate the propagation of the tsunami wave.

The below image shows the movement of the tsunami wave from its point of origin after only 2 hours. Click on the image to see an animation of the movement of the tsunami wave.

 This animation was prepared by Kenji Satake (Active Fault Research Center, GSJ/AIST, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan, 26 December 2004, 8:18 pm, GMT+2)

Click on the below image to see a more extensive (Indian Ocean wide) animation of how the wave traveled across the Indian Ocean, hitting even the Somali coastline. (note: to see the animation you need Apple QuickTime - click to go to the download page - if you have a problem when clicking on the below image then right click and "save target as" to your hard drive. Then open the file indo2.mov in quicktime)

Animation provided by Vasily V. Titov, Associate Director, Tsunami Inundation Mapping Efforts (TIME), NOAA/PMEL - UW/JISAO, USA

Travel Time Map

The below maps show the travel time (in hours) of the tsunami wave across the Indian Ocean. (Maps provided by Dr. Viacheslav Gusiakov, Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, Novosibirsk, RUSSIA). For more maps and related information visit the WebSite of the Tsunami Laboratory, Novosibirk

 See also:

From PMEL Tsunami Research Programme web site:

Indonesia Tsunami 2004.12.26
* Wave Animation
* Wave Travel Time Chart
* Max Computed Amplitude Chart

DART - Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis
For early detection and real-time reporting of tsunamis in the open ocean.
* Animation w/earthquake
* Mooring System & Deployment Animation

 

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page we provide answers to frequently ased questions about the Indian Ocean Tsunami. These are based on real questions that we have received during the days after the disaster.

Q: "Can you tell whether there will be a similar tidal wave coming in the future from today, when and what will be the magnitude"

A: Unfortunately, scientists cannot predict when the next large earthquake will occur, what its size will be, and whether a tsunami will be generated.  From history, however, we do observe that large or great earthquake don't occur often.  And, since not all earthquakes generate
tsunamis, it is a very infrequent occurrence.  While there have been many aftershock earthquakes in Indonesia, Nicobar and Andaman Islands in the last day (27 so far of magnitude greater than 5.4), none of these have generated tsunamis.  Of some concern is that sometimes, smaller earthquake might trigger underwater landslides which could generate tsunamis, but these tsunami generally only affect the area very near to the source., e.g., near Indonesia only.

Q: Has a tsunami hit the Indian Ocean before?

A: The 1883 Krakatau volcanic eruption has generated a destructive tsunami higher than 40 m on the Indonesian coast where more than 36 000 lives were lost. [read more here]

Q: Can an aftershock generate a tsunami?

A: Yes, but only if the aftershock is very large. Such a large aftershock is now very unlikely. No aftershocks of the magnitude 9.4 Alaska earthquake of 1964, nor of the magnitude 9.0 Central Aleutian earthquake of 1957 generated tsunamis large enough to be damaging. The great Chile earthquake of 1960 (magnitude 9.6) had a foreshock that generated a tsunami, but that foreshock was exceptionally large, magnitude 7.9.

Q: WHY DOES THE OCEAN OFTEN RECEDES AWAY FROM SHORE JUST BEFORE A TSUNAMI WAVE HITS LAND?

A: Although tsunamis are commonly depicted as a giant breaking wave with a crest towering over the land, this image is hardly if ever the case. Instead tsunamis can more accurately be described as a rapidly-rising tide without a developed wave face, which quickly and forcefully floods low-lying coastal areas.

Ironically, in deep, open-ocean water, tsunami waves are often less than a meter high and can travel at speeds up to 1,000 kilometers per hour. However, as a tsunami wave approaches shallower waters along the coast, the leading edge of the wave begins to slow down while the rest of the wave begins to “pile up” behind it — causing it to grow in height while maintaining its strength. The crest of this wave can be several meters high by the time it reaches the shoreline. Sometimes, however, the crest of the wave isn’t the first to arrive — the trough is (this is often the case when the tsunami originates from an oceanic earthquake associated with land subsidence (sinking), which causing the water column to drop down at the earthquake site). In this case, instead of extremely high water levels, the first sign of a tsunami is what appears to be an unusually low low-tide. Although onlookers might be intrigued by this unusual site, this major withdrawal of the sea should be taken as a warning that a tsunami wave will soon follow.

As the coastal ocean waters recede from the shore, it often leaves large portions of the sea floor exposed. Individuals who do not recognize this as a common precursor to tsunami waves often find themselves gravitating toward the exposed shore. Unfortunately, they often perished as they rush to gather fish left high and dry on the exposed beach or to view never before seen rock and reef formations —  only to be hit moments later by the incoming wall of water. Experts believe that a receding ocean may give individuals more familiar with “nature’s tsunami warning signal” as much as a five minute warning to evacuate the area. This cycle may be repeated several times as successive wave crests arrive five minutes to an hour apart. Seek higher ground and stay out of danger areas until an "all-clear" is issued by a competent authority.

There are several terms that are used to describe this phenomenon. Which one to use depends on the circumstances (e.g., whether the tsunami occurs along the ocean or is in a bay) and on personal preference. The terms “drawdown,” “negative wave” and “withdrawal” are most often used to describe this phenomenon. Less formal terms include “waterline receding” and “bay emptying.” 

So remember: 
• An approaching tsunamis is sometimes preceded by a noticeable rise or fall of coastal water. This is a natural warning; people should move inland away from the shoreline.
 
• When the sea begins to drain away, do not go to investigate, but quickly go inland away from the shoreline.
 
• Never go down to the beach to watch for a tsunami. When you can see the wave you are too close to escape. Tsunami can move faster than a person can run!
 
• Stay tuned to your local radio, marine radio, (USA: NOAA Weather Radio), or television stations during a tsunami emergency - bulletins issued through your local emergency management office and the (USA:NOAA) National Weather Service offices can save your life.

Q: Historically, how often and where do tsunamis occur?  

A: Tsunamis are disasters that can be generated in all of the world's oceans, inland seas, and in any large body of water. Each region of the world appears to have its own cycle of frequency and pattern in generating tsunamis that range in size from small to the large and highly destructive events. Most tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean (85%) and its marginal seas. The reason is that the Pacific covers more than one-third of the earth's surface and is surrounded by a series of mountain chains, deep-ocean trenches and island arcs called the "ring of fire" - where most earthquakes occur (off the coasts of Kamchatka, Japan, the Kuril Islands, Alaska and South America). It is in the ring of fire where the main tectonic plates forming the floor of the Pacific collide against themselves or against the continental plates that surround the ocean basin.  Many tsunamis have also been generated in the seas which border the Pacific Ocean. Tsunamis are generated, by shallow earthquakes all around the Pacific, but those from earthquakes in the tropical Pacific tend to be modest in size. While such tsunamis in these areas may be devastating locally, their energy decays rapidly with distance. Usually, they are not destructive a few hundred kilometers away from their sources. That is not the case with tsunamis generated by great earthquakes in the North Pacific or along the Pacific coast of South America. On the average of about 6 times per century, a tsunami from one of these regions sweeps across the entire Pacific, is reflected from distant shores, and sets the entire ocean in motion for days. Although not as frequent, destructive tsunamis have been also been generated in the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and even within smaller bodies of water, like the Sea of Marmara, in Turkey.

The U.S. is vulnerable to tsunamis generated by seismic events anywhere along the Pacific Basin’s Ring of Fire.  The States of Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California are vulnerable to tsunamis triggered by local seismic events as well as teletsunamis generated by distant seismic events along the Ring of Fire. The PTWC was established in 1946 as a result of a tsunami generated by a seismic event in Alaska’s Aleutian Island Chain that led to a teletsunami affecting the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii (severe damage and 165 fatalities) as well as Japan. Similarly, seismic events in South America have triggered both local and teletsunamic events.
 
During the 101-year period from 1900 to 2001, 796 tsunamis were observed or recorded in the Pacific Ocean according to the Tsunami Laboratory in Novosibirsk. 117 caused casualties and damage most near the source only; at least nine caused widespread destruction throughout the Pacific. The greatest number of tsunamis during any 1 year was 19 in 1938, but all were minor and caused no damage. There was no single year of the period that was free of tsunamis. 17% of the total tsunamis were generated in or near Japan. The distribution of tsunami generation in other areas is as follows: South America, 15%: New Guinea Solomon Islands, 13%; Indonesia, 11%; Kuril Islands and Kamchatka, 10%; Mexico and Central America, 10%; Philippines, 9%; New Zealand and Tonga, 7%; Alaska and West Coasts of Canada and the United States, 7%; and Hawaii, 3%. 

Note:  The Indian Ocean tsunami is now reported to be one of the strongest in the world over the past 40 years.  More than 75,000 (12/30/04) lives have been lost and material damage is in the Billions of Dollars.

 

General questions about tsunamis (links to the web site of the International Tsunami Information Center, Honolulu):

 

  1. What is a tsunami?
  2. How do earthquakes generate tsunamis?
  3. How do volcanic eruptions generate tsunamis?
  4. How do submarine landslides, rock falls and underwater slumps generate tsunamis?
  5. Can asteroids, meteorites or man-made explosions cause tsunamis?
  6. Where and how frequently are tsunamis generated?
  7. How does tsunami energy travel across the ocean and how far can tsunamis waves reach?
  8. Why aren't tsunamis seen at sea or from the air?
  9. What are the factors of destruction from tsunamis?
  10. What determines how destructive a tsunami will be near the origin and at a distant shore?
  11. Why are locally generated tsunamis so dangerous?
  12. What is a mega-tsunami and can it happen today?

Tsunami Recordings on Tide Gauges

US NOAAUS national weather serviceThe Indian Ocean tsunami was recorded on several tide gauges recorded at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.  The gauges are operated by many different agencies including the NOAA/National Ocean Service, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the University of Hawaii, and the National Tidal Facility of Australia. 

Visit this web site to find out more from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center's "Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26 December, 2004" web page.

Click on the site name to see a graph of the tsunami.  Wave heights are maximum peak-to-trough height in cm.  Arrival times are the actual tsunami arrival time in UTC on gages where it can be determined. 

The below table is copied from the above-mentioned web site on 1 January 2005. For up to date data consult that web site.

Tide Gage Site

Wave Height (cm p-t)

Arrival Time (UTC)

Cocos Is., Australia

42

0320 12/26

Jackson Bay, NZ

65

1510 12/26

Chatham I., NZ

35

?

Port Vila, Vanuatu

15

?

Noumea, New Caledonia

10

?

Nukualofa, Tonga

10

?

King’s Wharf, Fiji

5

0000 12/27

Pago Pago, American Samoa

10

?

Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia

5

?

Hilo, Hawaii, USA

10

?

Kahului, Hawaii, USA

25

?

Kawaihae, Hawaii, USA

10

?

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

5

?

Severo Kurilsk, Russia

60

?

Adak, Alaska, USA

17

?

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, USA

12

?

Neah Bay, Washington, USA

5

?

Crescent City, California, USA

20

?

Arena Cove, California, USA

15

?

Point Reyes, California, USA

22

?

San Francisco, California, USA

10

?

Moterey, California, USA

7

?

Port San Luis, California, USA

45

?

Santa Monica, California, USA

13

?

Los Angeles, California, USA

10

?

La Jolla, California, USA

5

?

San Diego, California, USA

20

0800 12/27

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

20

?

Manzanillo, Mexico

265

?

Acajutla, El Salvador

30

?

Baltra I., Galapagos Is.

30

0625 1427

Callao, Peru

65

0520 12/27

Arica, Chile

70

0405 12/27

Iquique, Chile

20

0440 12/27

Antofagasta, California, USA

25

?

Caldera, Chile

10

?

Coquimbo, Chile

35

0200 12/27

Valparaiso, Chile

15

?

San Antonio, Chile

10

?

Talcahuano, Chile

30

0135 12/27

Corral, Chile

25

0150 12/27

Punta Corona, Chile

5

?

Puerto Williams, Chile

29

?

 

 

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