Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Earthquakes Tsunami Indonesia Erupts

Hundreds of people are missing after a 7.7 earthquake hit off the coast of Sumatra, the same undersea fault that ruptured in 2004 creating a devastating tsunami that spread across the Indian Ocean killing hundreds of thousands of people living on the coast.

Mondays 7.7 quake leveled homes generating a tsunami and killing 154 people, with hundreds more people missing. The ten foot high tsunami has increased the devastation for the people living on these islands. Villages are so remote that rescuers are having trouble reaching the area through continuing rough seas. Officials say ten villages were swept away in the tsunami which spread 600 meters inland, some say that thousands are missing.

Mount Merapi volcano, on the Island of Java also erupted after a series of underground quakes alerted authorities to begin evacuations of the area. Thousands of people living around the volcano fled as the eruptions sent clouds of ash falling onto the land below the volcano. Reports say that a few people were killed by a series of three eruptions.

Why the region is so violent: Like Alaska's volcano-dotted Aleutian Islands, Indonesia's islands lie along a deep-sea trench -- an undersea boundary between two enormous plates in Earth's crust.

In Indonesia's case, the denser crust of the Australian plate is diving beneath the more buoyant crust of the Eurasian plate, forming the Sunda Trench. Friction between the plates heats rock to the melting point, supplying the magma that wells up to form the volcanoes that dot the islands – and triggering the earthquakes.

Similar subduction zones encircle the Pacific, earning the chains of volcanoes that stretch from the Andes to the western Pacific the collective moniker Ring of Fire.

Monday's quake generated a 10-foot tsunami that struck the Mentawai islands, just off the Sumatran coast. The general region has been keeping some seismologists awake at night because it also contains a section of the subduction zone that has been building strain for more than 200 years. If that strain was to be released in one event, the quake would top magnitude 8.5, a so-called great earthquake.

On April 7, 2010 a 7.8 earthquake hit the same region without setting off a tsunami. Indonesia is the fourth most populated nation in the world with 237,556,300 people densely packed on an archipelago and many islands.

Update October 28 - Disaster supplies are still not reaching the quake tsunami zone where clean water, food, blankets, clothing, medical attention, emergency shelter and hygiene kits are urgently needed.

House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie says there is no need for legislators currently on foreign trips to return to Indonesia because of the Mentawai tsunami. Marzuki added that foreign trips were an important part of legislative duties. "The Mentawai people are already taken care of. We must not let the Mentawai tsunami stop us from doing our jobs," Marzuki told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday.

The Indonesian Government, struggling to get emergency supplies to those affected by the latest earthquake announced earlier this month plans to spend 100 Trillion Rp to upgrade their military. The defense minister said that 16.8 billion Rp would be needed for military upgrade over the next five years.