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December 26, 2004 Tsunami

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Mile-Long Rocks Were Swept Away at 100mph
by the Earthquake That Set Off the Tsunami

February 10, 2005

by Kevin Caruso

Enormous slabs of rock, many more that a mile long, were dislodged and moved up to seven miles in the water in a series of landslides that were set off by the earthquake that caused the December 26, 2004 Asian tsunami.

Images released by the HMS Scott, a British Royal Navy survey ship, show the flat Indian tectonic plate is subducting beneath the Burma plate, which is being pushed up by the action.

“The seabed at the earthquake epicenter looked like a ‘rumpled carpet’ when viewed on the sonar screen,” said Steve Malcolm, commanding officer of the HMS Scott.

Data from the sonar is being analyzed at Britain’s Southampton Oceanography Center. One of the geologists analyzing the data, Tim Henstock, said: "There are features which we would think are something like the Grand Canyon would look. You can see huge piles of mud maybe a few hundred meters thick; there's a lot of evidence of activity at the subduction zone.”

Geologists analyzing the data believe that some of the ridges are up to 5,000 feet high. Additionally, many of the ridges have collapsed, causing huge landslides of mud and rock several miles long.

The December 26, 2004 earthquake was originally measured as 9.0 on the Richter scale; but seismologists from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois have recalculated the earthquake at 9.3. It is also believed that the epicenter was about 25 miles below the sea floor.

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