Underwater Sounds Generated by the Great Sumatra Rupture

Catherine D. de Groot-Hedlin – chedlin@ucsd.edu
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92093-0225

Popular version of paper 2aAO1 presented at the 2006 151st ASA Meeting in Providence, R.I.

Back to all Lay Language papers

Most earthquakes that rupture below the ocean shake the seafloor, generating sounds that can travel through the water for thousands of kilometers. The Great Sumatra earthquake of Dec 26, 2004, which caused devastation along coastal areas throughout the Indian Ocean, tore through a nearly 1300 km section of fault where the Indian tectonic plate plunges beneath the Sunda plate, generating sound waves along the entire rupture path. Low-frequency acoustic waves produced by this rupture were recorded at hydrophone stations — basically underwater microphones. These recordings were used to infer the earthquake rupture’s path and velocity.