The sequence of huge earthquakes that struck off the coast of Sumatra in April may signal the creation of a new tectonic plate boundary. Scientists give the assessment in this week’s Nature journal.
They say their analysis of the tremors – the biggest was a magnitude 8.7 – suggests major changes are taking place on the ocean floor that will eventually split the Indo-Australian plate in two. It is not something that will happen soon; it could take millions of years.
“This is a process that probably started eight to 10 million years ago, so you can imagine how much longer it will take until we get a classic boundary,” said Matthias Delescluse from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Via April Sumatra quakes signal Indian ocean plate break-up.