A tsunami spawned by the
9.0-magnitude quake off the northern tip of Sumatra killed
an estimated 60,000 on Sunday in Indonesia, Thailand, India,
Malaysia, Sri Lanka and East Africa.
Satellite images showed that the movement of undersea plates
off the northern tip of Sumatra moved the Nicobar Islands
and Simeulue Island out to sea by an unknown distance, U.S.
Geological Survey geophysicist Ken Hudnut said.
Although the data showed that plates more than 12 miles (20
km) beneath the ocean's surface moved dramatically,
scientists will have to use handheld satellite positioning
systems at the sites to learn precisely how much the land
masses on the surface shifted, Hudnut said.
The USGS team in Pasadena,
California, also was studying more detailed satellite images
on Tuesday to determine if the scraping of one plate over
another plowed up enough debris on the ocean floor to block
the port of Banda Aceh in Sumatra where international aid
Large earthquakes in the last decade in Kobe, Japan, and
Golcuk, Turkey, deformed the coastlines and rendered their
ports inoperable after the crises, Hudnut said.
U.S. scientists say
movement of the tectonic plates during the earthquake
shifted the Nicobar Islands.
(click image to enlarge)