Corals Warn of Earthquakes

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The direction in which a coral is growing can tell us when the next earthquake is due. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology studied coral growth along offshore northern Sumatra and warned that the Indian Ocean might soon see another earthquake along the faultline that caused the 2004 tsunami. As earthquake activity takes place, the sea-bed is pushed up. The corals then start growing horizontally thus making evident tectonic movement pattern. The researchers analyzed the cross-sectional details of the corals along a stretch of the 'Sunda megathrust' in northern Sumatra, where an earthquake had occurred in September 2007. The findings revealed the area had witnessed multiple earthquakes over the last 700 years and that the 2007 earthquake might well be a precursor to another one in the coming decades.


Down To Earth, January 2009