The Curious Nature of a Double Earthquake

In a pair of recent studies in Nature magazine, geophysicists/seismologists have uncovered a staggering quip of breakthrough research: on September 29, 2009, a tsunami struck the shores of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga, the aftermath of the disaster leaving in its wake a death count of 200 civilians and obvious, devastating damage. However, while tsunamis may be considered common in places located in the southern Pacific, they normally tend to form in response to an earthquake. But in this case, the source of the tsunami isn’t what scientists would ever expect: the massive wave was actually created as a result of TWO separate yet linked earthquakes. The initial earthquake, registering at a whopping 8.1 magnitude, occurred along one of the oceanic faults cast out in the Pacific. However, while this quake was still being registered and felt, a hidden thrust-fault quake occurred only 70 km north from its predecessor. The east-moving Tonga block of the Australian plate collided with the west-moving Pacific plate, spurring a pair of subevents both registering at a 7.8 magnitude to ultimately combine and produce a shock of an 8.0 earthquake. The recent findings show the strangeness of this occurrence, and have not been uncovered sooner due to the duration of the initial quake drowning out the presence of the equally-drastic thrust-fault quake, an event that geophysicists/seismologists have never witnessed before. The effects of the earthquake were massive enough to shift the northern Tongan island of Niuatoputatu a staggering 40 cm from its previous position. While the island had been undergoing minute shifts in location for the past centuries, a relocation of this high degree blew the researchers minds. From everything that occurred and was observed, geophysicists/seismologists believe that there is much research still to be done regarding subduction zones and their behavior. In addition to being a natural disaster, the tsunami resulting from the mulitple quakes less than a year ago shows us that disasters, like humans, animals, and plants, also have the uncanny ability to adapt and increase their influence on the surrounding environment as determining factors change and landscapes are altered.

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About willdogg10

I am a renegade in this world, challenging both myself and others to become more and more inspired by our faith and the God for whom we live every single day. May we take heart in the possibilities that LOVE and SELFLESSNESS have to offer us, and may we come to realize that the greatest luxuries in life are those we participate in that belong to Someone greater.
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2 Responses to The Curious Nature of a Double Earthquake

  1. nrcook14 says:

    I thought this was quite an interesting blog. It blows my mind to even imagine an earthquake tsunami of that magnitude. Just thinking about a force strong enough to move an ENTIRE island 40 centimeters, it’s hard to believe. I think seismologists should continue and increase their research efforts to look more into when these things occur. And also see if it is capable to know how exactly two earthquakes seemed to happen simultaneously. If research could be done to find out more on earthquakes of such great magnitude, pre-cautions could be taken for the best. But this was a great article that I think showed geology’s surprises at it’s best.

  2. Wendy Foster says:

    This was a very interesting blog. I had never heard of a double earthquake before, so I took a few minutes to research to see if there were ever any other double earthquakes reported. It appears that a combination of numerous small earthquakes may have taken place simutaneously in Hawaii back in 1973; however, we lack in information, so who knows. I find it amazing that the island moved 40cm. I agree with you that humans and animals are resilient but I wonder what is next. Is this a new trend in earthquakes activity that will appear more often and devastate life in the future or is it going to remain a rare phenomenan?

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