On 26 December 2004, a devastating earthquake of M 9.3 occurred offshore northern Sumatra. Due to the size of this earthquake and the accompanying tsunami wave, disastrous consequences have been observed in several countries around the Indian Ocean. The tectonics in the region are characterized by the oblique, north-northeast-oriented subduction of the Indian–Australian plate under the Sunda microplate with a rate of 6–6.5 cm/yr. This oblique convergence results in strain partitioning, where the trench-perpendicular thrust faulting along the subducting slab accommodates the east–west component of the motion, whereas the north–south component of the motion is probably accommodated by the right-lateral strike-slip faulting along the Great Sumatran fault and the Mentawi fault. Source parameters of the 26 December 2004 event have been used for modeling the resulting ground motions in the nearby affected regions. Results give an insight on the importance of ground shaking in the total destruction of places like Banda Aceh, northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The modeling is performed for a multiasperity finite fault using a hybrid procedure combining deterministic modeling at low frequencies and semistochastic modeling at high frequencies. Results show that strong shaking was distributed over a large area including northwestern Sumatra and its offshore islands. In Banda Aceh, which experienced significant damage, bedrock velocities reached 60 cm/sec with duration of the shaking of ca. 150 sec. The largest ground motions occurred near the strongest asperities of the fault plane, where velocities of 200 cm/sec are modeled for bedrock conditions.

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