Pulau Deudab in the Strait of Malacca

April 04, 2005

Sunset_over_pulau_deudab_2005_02_08 copy

Provided and copyright by: Rob Sheridan
Summary authors & editors: Rob Sheridan

This photo was taken on 8 February, 2005, from the deck of the USNS Mercy in the Strait of Malacca. We were positioned just off the coast of of Banda Aceh, the largest population center in the Aceh province of Indonesia. The view is looking west as the Sun sets over the island of Pulau Deudab, which is off the northernmost tip of Sumatra. The northern tip of Sumatra, and its offshore islands, ride on the Burma Microplate. Geologically young, peaked volcanic cones, such as the one above, are common in this region.

A few miles off the western coast of northern Sumatra, the approximately 12 million square kilometer Indian Plate is subducting below and sliding north in relation to the approximately 2 million square kilometer Burma Microplate, in the Sunda Trench, a northern extension of the longer Java Trench. A massive subduction earthquake, magnitude 9.0 on the Richter Scale, occurred at this fault on 26 December, 2004, and an 8.0 magnitude quake occurred here just last week. The epicenter of the December 26 shaker was about 250 kilometers south-south-east of Pulau Deudab. This is where the Indian Plate lurched about 15 meters closer to Sumatra, lifting and buckling the Burma Microplate. The displaced water resulted in a series of powerful tsunamis that devastated the nearby city of Banda Aceh, killing tens of thousands.

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