Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Magnitude 8.7 Earthquake off the west coast of Northern Sumatra
April 11, 2012 2:51 AM   Subscribe

A magnitude 8.7 earthquake has been recorded off the west coast of Northern Sumatra in the Indian Ocean at 2012 April 11 08:38:38 UTC. A Tsunami Warning has been issued spanning the entire Indian Ocean.
posted by clearly (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
IT IS NOT KNOWN THAT A TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED. THIS WATCH IS BASED ONLY ON THE EARTHQUAKE EVALUATION.

Not as big as the magnitude 9,1 that killed a quarter million people in 2004, but a big underwater seismic event like this is bound to create a destructive wave.

The warning systems installed after that catastrophe proved quite effective after the 7,3 quake in January of this year. Hopefully the residents will avoid any harm this time as well.
posted by three blind mice at 3:03 AM on April 11, 2012


BBC Report:
But Bruce Presgrave of the USGS later told the BBC that the nature of this quake made it less likely a tsunami would be generated, as the earth had moved horizontally, rather than vertically, therefore had not displaced large volumes of water.

"We can't rule out the possibility, but horizontal motion is less likely to produce a destructive tsunami," he said.
Fingers crossed.
posted by clearly at 3:06 AM on April 11, 2012


Early reports from the Tsunami Warning Center indicate a tsunami has been generated. Sea levels at one of the closest reading stations are up about a foot, others much less.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:30 AM on April 11, 2012


A TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR

INDONESIA / INDIA / AUSTRALIA / SRI LANKA / MYANMAR / THAILAND /
MALDIVES / UNITED KINGDOM / MALAYSIA / MAURITIUS / REUNION /
SEYCHELLES / OMAN / PAKISTAN / SOMALIA / MADAGASCAR / IRAN /
UAE / YEMEN / COMORES / MOZAMBIQUE / KENYA / TANZANIA /
CROZET ISLANDS / BANGLADESH / KERGUELEN ISLANDS / SOUTH AFRICA /
SINGAPORE
Is there a piece of the UK down there that I don't know about?
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:38 AM on April 11, 2012


Is there a piece of the UK down there that I don't know about?

The British Indian Ocean Territory is all I know about.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:41 AM on April 11, 2012


Yeah if you read on, it's Diego Garcia.
posted by gingerest at 3:41 AM on April 11, 2012


Probably the UK warning is for the Indian Ocean Territory.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:41 AM on April 11, 2012


According to NDTV, a 45 cm tsunami wave was recorded so far.
posted by elpapacito at 3:46 AM on April 11, 2012


Aha, thanks. I'd never heard of the Chagos Islands before.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:48 AM on April 11, 2012


Few people have, which helps to explain how the UK could get away with forcibly deporting the indigenous population.
posted by brokkr at 3:48 AM on April 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


Earthquake hits Indonesia during David Cameron visit
posted by dubold at 3:51 AM on April 11, 2012


And it's the 11th. Kinda freaky coincidence.

Hope there's no big tsunami.

Speaking of tsunami, something I've been wondering: after 3/11, when the devastating horror of an actual tsunami was brought home to people around the world (through the news and all), are there still sushi bars in NYC and London and elsewhere named "Tsunami"? IIRC, there used to be one in NYC's East Village, for example.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:59 AM on April 11, 2012


Out here in an office building in downtown Singapore, we actually thought a colleague's newly-bought smartphone (one of those mega-huge ones from Samsung) was going off silently.

Continued to believe so until my phone really went off, having received a message from my brother in Bangalore, talking about the tremors *there*, which is when I checked on seismic activity in Indonesia.

I still find it astounding that there'd be tremors over such a large area; Bangalore is about 4.5 hours from here.
posted by the cydonian at 4:09 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just got an e-mail from USGS about an 8.2 earthquake in essentially the same location. Here is the seismic event page.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:14 AM on April 11, 2012


Son in Singapore says all is well there so far. Hoping there will be no big tsunami anywhere in the region.
posted by mermayd at 4:15 AM on April 11, 2012


There will be aftershocks from this, BIG aftershocks which may in fact cause a tsunami. Looks like this flavor of quake didn't create any, knock on wood.
posted by zardoz at 5:00 AM on April 11, 2012


are there still sushi bars in NYC and London and elsewhere named "Tsunami"?

After Katrina, is there still a New Orleans drink called the Hurricane?

Although I do know the taiko master Seiichi Tanaka -- who was the first to teach taiko in the US, and whose signature piece is titled Tsunami -- visited Japan not long after 3/11 to see how he could use his influence to help. He was asked not to perform while he was there.

I don't know if the piece was different before or just took on a new meaning, but when I saw his group perform it at Stanford that summer it was full of pain and fear and helpless rage. It hurt to watch.
posted by Foosnark at 5:00 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Friends currently holidaying in Aceh report they have been moved to higher floors within the hotel but everything appears rather calm.
posted by kariebookish at 5:26 AM on April 11, 2012


are there still sushi bars in NYC and London and elsewhere named "Tsunami"?

As you might imagine, Salt Lake City is not a sushi mecca. But we have a Tsunami that puts out a quality product.
posted by Trurl at 5:33 AM on April 11, 2012


India has just withdrawn the tsunami warning.
posted by the cydonian at 6:02 AM on April 11, 2012


Not just India, the PTWC Indian Ocean Basin Messages for NOAA's National Weather Service cancelled the tsunami warning for both the main event and the aftershock.

So it looks like we can breathe again...
posted by DreamerFi at 6:07 AM on April 11, 2012


Few people have, which helps to explain how the UK could get away with forcibly deporting the indigenous population.

And then calling the military base that displaced them "Camp Justice". Wow.
posted by ts;dr at 6:09 AM on April 11, 2012


Sorry to flood [an unintended pun, I assure you :) ] the thread, but am I reading the linked tsunami warning correctly? All the estimated times for the waves are in Zulu time (ie, UTC) aren't they (hence the "Z" after the timing for each port)?

If that's the case, why did they estimate that the tsunami wave, if any, will reach Singapore last, at 2351Z (which I read as 23:51 UTC, or 7:51 SGT tomorrow)? I mean Cape Town, which is kinda two seas away - eight time-zones and one hemisphere different and facing the Atlantic - was estimated to receive tidal waves before Singapore. Doesn't seem right to me, considering that Aceh is practically next door compared to African and other Asian ports.
posted by the cydonian at 6:10 AM on April 11, 2012


If that's the case, why did they estimate that the tsunami wave, if any, will reach Singapore last,

I saw a map (sorry, can't find the link) which showed a set of contour lines across the oceans, showing how many hours until the tsunami would be likely to hit. I noticed that in SE Asia the model was quite confused - it had contours going around some of the islands and coming back, and those contours through the narrow straits were very close together (ie. slow moving), while the contours across the Indian Ocean were wide apart (fast moving).

The map showed, if I recall, the contours going north up the coast of Sumatra, then moving south-east, quite slowly, through the Malacca Strait.
posted by Jimbob at 6:22 AM on April 11, 2012


I'm not sure but I think it is because the waves are going up and around Sumatra. Penang's warning is earlier than Port Dickson - it's moving down the coast.
posted by BinGregory at 6:23 AM on April 11, 2012


Here's the latest from NOAA:
000
WEIO21 PHEB 111318
TSUIOX

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 007
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 1318Z 11 APR 2012

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN.

... TSUNAMI WATCH CANCELLATION SUPPLEMENT ...

... UPDATED SEA-LEVEL MEASUREMENTS ...

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.  ONLY
NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND
ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

 ORIGIN TIME -  0839Z 11 APR 2012
 COORDINATES -   2.3 NORTH   93.1 EAST
 LOCATION    -  OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA
 MAGNITUDE   -  8.7

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY

 GAUGE LOCATION        LAT   LON    TIME        AMPL         PER
 -------------------  ----- ------  -----  ---------------  -----
 MALE MV               4.2N  73.5E  1223Z   0.19M /  0.6FT  06MIN
 GAN MV                0.7S  73.2E  1212Z   0.03M /  0.1FT  48MIN
 HANIMAADHOO MV        6.8N  73.2E  1235Z   0.25M /  0.8FT  06MIN
 PADANG ID             1.0S 100.4E  1208Z   0.09M /  0.3FT  34MIN
 KO TAPHAO NOI TH      7.8N  98.4E  1143Z   0.05M /  0.2FT  06MIN
 ENGGANO ID            5.3S 102.3E  1104Z   0.12M /  0.4FT  04MIN
 TRINCONMALEE LK       8.6N  81.2E  1129Z   0.06M /  0.2FT  16MIN
 TELUKDALAM ID         0.6N  97.8E  1044Z   0.22M /  0.7FT  14MIN
 COCOS ISLAND AU      12.1S  96.9E  1102Z   0.08M /  0.3FT  18MIN
 SABANG ID             5.8N  95.3E  1010Z   0.36M /  1.2FT  06MIN
 MEULABOH ID           4.1N  96.1E  1007Z   1.06M /  3.5FT  12MIN
 DART 23401            8.9N  88.5E  0956Z   0.03M /  0.1FT  06MIN

 LAT  - LATITUDE (N-NORTH, S-SOUTH)
 LON  - LONGITUDE (E-EAST, W-WEST)
 TIME - TIME OF THE MEASUREMENT (Z IS UTC IS GREENWICH TIME)
 AMPL - TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL.
        IT IS ...NOT... CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT.
        VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).
 PER  - PERIOD OF TIME IN MINUTES(MIN) FROM ONE WAVE TO THE NEXT.

 NOTE - DART MEASUREMENTS ARE FROM THE DEEP OCEAN AND THEY
        ARE GENERALLY MUCH SMALLER THAN WOULD BE COASTAL
         MEASUREMENTS AT SIMILAR LOCATIONS.

EVALUATION

 A SIGNIFICANT TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED BY THIS EARTHQUAKE.
 HOWEVER...SEA LEVEL READINGS NOW INDICATE THAT THE THREAT HAS
 DIMINISHED OR IS OVER FOR MOST AREAS.  THEREFORE THE TSUNAMI
 WATCH ISSUED BY THIS CENTER IS NOW CANCELLED.

 FOR ANY AFFECTED AREAS - WHEN NO MAJOR WAVES HAVE OCCURRED FOR AT
 LEAST TWO HOURS AFTER THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME OR DAMAGING WAVES
 HAVE NOT OCCURRED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS THEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES
 CAN ASSUME THE THREAT IS PASSED. DANGER TO BOATS AND COASTAL
 STRUCTURES CAN CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS DUE TO RAPID CURRENTS.
 AS LOCAL CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE A WIDE VARIATION IN TSUNAMI WAVE
 ACTION THE ALL CLEAR DETERMINATION MUST BE MADE BY LOCAL
 AUTHORITIES.

THIS WILL BE THE FINAL BULLETIN ISSUED BY THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI
WARNING CENTER FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY MAY ISSUE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
FOR THIS EVENT. IN THE CASE OF CONFLICTING INFORMATION...THE
MORE CONSERVATIVE INFORMATION SHOULD BE USED FOR SAFETY.


posted by DreamerFi at 6:27 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jeez, NOAA, sounds like you're yelling. Even your name sounds like you're yelling. 1994 called, they want their caps lock back.

(As an aside, something about their all-caps declarations seems so very serious. When I was living in Iowa during the 2008 floods, they issued a bulletin that advised readers not to drive into flood waters, closing with the helpful reminder/warning "DON'T DIE.")
posted by compartment at 6:52 AM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Baton Rouge, Louisiana has a restaurant that is still called Tsunami, WHERE you can also order a Hurricane. (possibly while someone gives you a Titty Twister)
posted by ColdChef at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2012


Hey, it's the government. They probably still have teletype machines somewhere.

Just reading that reminded be of getting the UPI feed when I worked at a radio station.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2012


1994 called, they want their caps lock back.

Almost all of these messages are formatted in either USTTY or ITA2, not ASCII encoding, which are based on 5 bit Baudot encoding. 5 bits=32 different characters. To extend the character set, character 31 (11111) means "Shift to the letter character set" and character 30 (11011 -- this is *not* binary, there are parity rules involved) means "Shift to the figures character set.")

Four of the characters in both sets are identical (Null 00000, Space 00100, CR 00010, and LF 01000), so you get 26 unique characters per set. The letters set is the english 26 letters, and the figures set is numbers, punctuation, and a special control code that rings a bell on receiving equipment.

The Soviets added another set (by abandoning NUL and making it Cyrillic Shift) to handle their character set, leading to MTK-2 encoding. USTTY moved some of the figure set and added WRU instead of #, which meant "Who aRe yoU?" and triggered an automatic response from the remote sending machine.

But, the basic reason for the shouting is the alerting systems -- which are often worldwide and interconnected -- are based on Baudot, and there are no lower case letters. Changing to something would involve testing the whole network, and really, there is literally no advantage to do so other than looking prettier, and trying to make it prettier and finding there's a non-8 bit link in Sumatra could be a very bad result.
posted by eriko at 7:29 AM on April 11, 2012 [156 favorites]


NWS is converting to mixed case usage. Last October they started 4 test sites, after that trial is over expect the entire system to be slowly converted,
posted by edgeways at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


link
posted by edgeways at 7:35 AM on April 11, 2012


And I thought working with EBCDIC was bad. (Whee IBM backend.)
posted by kmz at 7:36 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jeez, NOAA, sounds like you're yelling. Even your name sounds like you're yelling. 1994 called, they want their caps lock back.

If you've ever listened to forecasts on the NWS weather radio channels, with their odd artificial speech robot voices, the all-caps text actually seems perfectly appropriate.
posted by aught at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


trying to make it prettier and finding there's a non-8 bit link in Sumatra could be a very bad result

Yes, I think that being able to transmit these messages as quickly as possible over the narrowest bandwidth connexion imaginable clearly overweighs the concern of being able to use both upper and lower case letters.
posted by Skeptic at 7:40 AM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Eriko, I'm not sure if this meager language of ours can quite express how much I love your post. The Electrical Engineer in my heart just smiled the warm, knowing smile you get when you learned something completely new about something you thought you knew everything about.
posted by workingdankoch at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN.

THIS IS NOT OUR FAULT.
posted by hal9k at 9:28 AM on April 11, 2012


And with that, eriko, you've singlehandedly restored my belief in the idea that things have reasons.

(Honestly, thanks: That was very cool to read.)
posted by compartment at 11:14 AM on April 11, 2012


Few people have, which helps to explain how the UK could get away with forcibly deporting the indigenous population.

Indeed. It should be pointed out that this happened as recently as the 1970s, and had everything to do with the building of a US military base (because there just aren't enough of those).
posted by Sys Rq at 12:37 PM on April 11, 2012


cough...black site...cough, cough.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:35 PM on April 11, 2012


I just think of NOAA and similar announcements as coming from our Dalek masters.
posted by Blackanvil at 2:55 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So which is the worst scourge, earthquakes and their subsequent tsunamis, Imperialist abuse of indigenous people, or CAPS LOCK?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:36 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This explainer column talks a bit about the tornado warning system and their possible upgrades to include *gasp* punctuation.
posted by Think_Long at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2012


They probably still have teletype machines somewhere.

Up until last year, my office certainly did.
posted by bonehead at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2012


If you've ever listened to forecasts on the NWS weather radio channels, with their odd artificial speech robot voices, the all-caps text actually seems perfectly appropriate
I remember being instructed on how to deal with automated calls from robotic voices and unthinkingly cracking a joke like "will it be robotic because everyone's dead?"

The simple "Yes" I received put a right downer on the session.
posted by fullerine at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


kmz: "And I thought working with EBCDIC was bad"

What's wrong with EBCDIC? Other than the fact that it ultimately didn't become the standard?
posted by Bonzai at 8:43 PM on April 12, 2012


Was there some particular reason that 5 bits were so much better than 6 or 7? It's not like lowercase-letters were invented in the 1980s or something.
posted by smackfu at 7:22 AM on April 13, 2012


Was there some particular reason that 5 bits were so much better than 6 or 7?

Yeah, it takes 1 or 2 fewer bits per letter that way. Storage and especially transmission capacity used to be expensive and/or difficult. It still is, in some situations.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 10:14 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with EBCDIC?

I just looked at an EBCDIC table, and apparently the alphabet isn't continuous. a-z is 0x81-0x89, 0x91-0x99 and 0xa2-0xa9.

I'm sure it's workable, but it just seems strange and awkward compared to the continuous alphabets we're used to in ASCII.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2012


EBCDIC comes out of punchcards.
posted by smackfu at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2012


On BCDIC & EBCDIC.
posted by brainwane at 2:09 AM on April 14, 2012


EBCDIC has the glorious innovation of packed decimal. A near 2:1 compression of numeric data. It might not seem like much now but when storage came in the form of a box of punch cards every byte saved helped.
posted by Bonzai at 5:51 AM on April 14, 2012


« Older Shortly after his concert in December 2011 inaugur...  |  In his ongoing project, Imagin... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments