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Earthquake Signals Tectonic Plate Ripping Apart

Three papers in this week’s issue of the journal Nature present startling new findings about an earthquake that struck the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra last April. As reported by Andrea Mustain at Our Amazing Planet, three features of the quake made it unusual: First, it was extremely powerful—at magnitude 8.7, it was the sixth most powerful ever recorded. Second, it struck in the middle of a tectonic plate and not along a plate boundary. Third, when the quake zipped along the initial fault and ran into faults intersecting it at right angles, those intersecting faults ruptured too. Mustain interviewed Thorne Lay, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and co-author of one of the papers: Lay said that, typically, when earthquakes spread to connecting faults, the rupture rips along … Read entire article »

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