New fault in Indian Ocean may trigger quakes in future: study
- A new plate boundary may be forming on the floor of the Indian Ocean as a result of the largest earthquake that shook the Andaman-Sumatra region in 2012, according to scientists who warn that the new fault system could trigger more quakes in the future.
- Researchers have found evidence of a possible new plate boundary forming on the floor of the Indian Ocean in the Wharton Basin.
- Slip-strike quake occurs when 2 plates slide horizontally against one another.
- Such quakes can be caused by deformations that occur in plates distant from fault lines as pressure builds up across a plate. They can lead to inter-plate earthquakes and cause a plate to break, resulting in a new boundary and this in turn can lead to even more quakes.
- It is this scenario that the researchers believe happened in 2012 when two earthquakes struck the Andaman-Sumatran region (north-west part) of the Indian Ocean — the largest inter-plate earthquakes ever recorded.
- Researchers studied seismic data that was recorded before, during and after the 2012 quakes and conducted sea floor depth analysis by venturing into the ocean aboard a research vessel.
- They created a high-resolution imagery of the sea floor, which unveiled deformations that had occurred. The analysis showed a new fault system had developed in area off coast of Sumatra that was involved in the 2012 quakes.
- The plate had broken along a 1,000 km fracture zone, resulting in a new plate boundary — one that is likely to be the site of future fault-slip quakes.