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Earthquakes and Tsunamis at Subduction Zones

On December 26, 2004, a magnitude ~9.2 earthquake struck Sumatra and the Andaman-Nicobar Islands of India, rupturing over a distance of > 1200 km and with average fault slip of ~ 10 m. Within hours, resulting tsunami waves inundated coastal communities around the Indian Ocean, killing over 250,000 people. This earthquake was followed by the Mw 8.7 Nias earthquake in March, 2005, to the south, and by further earthquakes in 2007. These earthquakes all ruptured sections of the megathrust plate boundary fault between the subducting India-Australia oceanic plate and the overriding Burma-Sunda micro- continental plate. These giant earthquakes were the first of their kind to be analyzed in an era of advanced geophysical (seismological and geodetic) techniques.

During this talk, Dr Lisa McNeill will give an overview of the earthquakes in 2004 and 2005, and show recent data illuminating the sub-seafloor structure of the subduction zone. Lisa will also discuss how the Sumatran subduction zone compares with others worldwide, both in terms of its structure and its earthquake rupture behaviour. 

View this presentation online


Dr Lisa McNeill (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)


Lisa McNeill is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton. In her research, she uses a combination of techniques to investigate active fault systems worldwide, both onshore and offshore. Techniques include using marine geological and geophysical data, and onshore geomorphology and paleoseismology, to constrain fault slip, tectonic development and earthquake hazard. She has worked extensively on tectonic processes at subduction zones around the worldwide and their relationship to hazards, and also on rift development and strain distribution in continental rifts. She has participated in 15 research cruises, including 3 Ocean Drilling expeditions on the Nankai margin, Japan focussing on seismogenic zone development.

Recently, she acted as Co-Chief Scientist on the IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) NanTroSEIZE Expedition 319, the first IODP riser drilling leg. She plays a major leadership role in a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) funded Sumatran earthquake consortium project.