Tsunami on Great Nicobar Islands

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Tsunami on Great Nicobar Islands


On December 26, 2004, at 07:58:50 local time, a fatal earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean. The Sumatra Tsunami was among the three greatest earthquakes ever recorded in the world history. The paper will explore the impacts of this earthquake on the ecosystem as well as the marine life. Also, this term paper will determine how the ecosystem of the affected areas has been resilient to the damages caused by the event and the aspects in which the environment made it vulnerable to the earthquake. Further, the paper will determine the causes of the Tsunami by a close analysis of the events that triggered its occurrence as well as the cascading events. Finally, the paper will discuss the preventive measures that could get implemented in an attempt to control the damage. The paper will also explain in detail the preventive measures applicable to mitigating the damages of earthquakes in future. The study and importance of the ecosystem will mark the main standpoint of the study in an attempt to design resilience on the ecosystem. ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW


On December 26, 2004, an earthquake with a 9.3 megathrust magnitude occured along the oceanic subduction region located 100 kilometers west of Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands (Titov et al., 2005). The earthquake created destructive waves worth 20 meters in horizontal displacement and 10 meters in vertical displacement (Kain et al., 2014). These strong destructive waves extended their damages to other countries along the coastline of the Indian Ocean and East Africa to Thailand (Lay et al., 2005). On the Great Nicobar Islands, more than 80,000 houses sustained major damages and eventually collapsed. The Sumatra Tsunami damaged properties worth billions of dollars and was fatal (Titov et al., 2005). After the 2004 Sumatra Tsunami, rebuilding lives and salvaging communities was the reconstruction effort employed by the government and other humanitarian agencies in response to the disasters damages. In attempts to recover the impacts of Sumatra Tsunami, the government facilitated immediate relief by releasing grants to the affected areas (Titov et al., 2005). Facilitation of regional logistics coordination and relief camps was also engineered to reconstruct the damages of the earthquake. The main aim of this term paper is determining the ecological impacts of Sumatra Tsunami on the Great Nicobar Islands.


What were the triggering events?

The Sumatra tsunami is the third world’s largest earthquake that was caused by an oceanic subduction which extended its effects to 1300 kilometer length along the oceanic zone. The pressure in the fault of South California was getting extremely large to the extent of causing South California to get kicked out into the Indian Ocean, the nuke was implanted at the fault near Sumatra. The extreme triggering on the nukes made the pressure at South California get back to normal. The end result was the Sumatra Tsunami. The waves of tsunami spread along the Indian Ocean, destructing the coastal communities of 12 nations (Kanamori, 2006).

Cascading events: How did one hazard lead to another?

The occurrence of Sumatra Tsunami is associated with more fatalities that the earthquake alone. The Sumatra Tsunami was hazardous and caused damages to property and the ecosystem. The epicenter of this Sumatra Tsunami was caused by oceanic subduction; destructive waves followed and damaged countries along the coastline of Indian Ocean claiming a lot of properties and people lives (Lay et al., 2005). The prolonged timespan of the earthquake caused serious damages to properties such as buildings, roads, and other properties. Residential areas in the coastal region were adversely devastated and their houses were swept away by the waves to the sea. Other well-constructed industrial facilities were also damaged by the Sumatra Tsunami. Further, the low lying topography of Banda Aceh was swept in an out by the successive strong waves of the Tsunami (Lay et al., 2005). At the end of the earthquakes, more lives were claimed and a lot of property was reported damaged, this marked the Sumatra Tsunami as the world’s third largest and deadly earthquake to occur in its history.

Risk map assessment: before and after the event?

The most important component of this term paper is risk assessment geared towards disaster risk mitigation and reduction. The segment presents a risk map assessment before and after the occurrence of the Sumatra Tsunami.

Before the Sumatra Tsunami

The Sumatran subduction trench (the plate boundary) at the oceanic plate slowly started descending beneath the continental Eurasian plate. Eventually, the subduction started sinking down into the earth’s mantle. The continental plate was squeezed sideways creating a vacuum for waves to hit. Being on the boundary of two Earth’s tectonic plates, the Sumatra region was prone to earthquakes (Kanamori, 2006). Prior to the earthquake, the Indian Ocean lacked the Tsunami warning system. If such mitigating factors were available, the residents would not have been subjected to the aftermath of the dire Tsunami effects.

After the Sumatra Tsunami

After the Sumatra Tsunami, this attracted world’s attention. When the Tsunami struck, the only sign of warning available to people at the Indian Ocean coastal region were the mega waves from the sea towards their direction (Ramachandran et al., 2005). Various technologies and models have been designed to prevent the occurrence of such an earthquake in future. The major risk prevention strategies formulated after the Sumatra Tsunami are mapping and the Tsunami warning system. Mapping strategy was designed to offer inundation maps that target coastal region communities. The Tsunami warning strategy was based on the utilization of sea-based instrument as pressure recorders, seismic gauges, buoys, ride gauges and sensors for detecting earthquakes that can lead into Tsunamis (Ramachandran et al., 2005). ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW

Ecological Impact

Impacts of Tsunami on the Ecosystem

The Sumatra Tsunami damaged the marine life and coastal waters adversely. The major effects of the Tsunami on the ecosystem include:

Loss and damage to natural ecosystems: As a result of the Sumatra Tsunami,41 to 100 percent of coral reef and 51 to 100 percent of mangrove ecosystems were damaged and lost. Also, the ecosystem was physically damaged and this affected the structure and function of the coastal ecosystems.

Water contamination: The Tsunami contaminated the Indian Ocean water. As a result, the ecosystems ability to support marine life became damaged. Among the affected regions were Katchal, Camorta, Nancowry among others. Mangroves, estuarine mudflats, seagrass, and coral reefs were badly damaged.

Solid waste and disaster debris: The Tsunami collected numerous non-biodegradable materials such as plastic to the sea hence polluting the water. This in turn adversely affected marine life and harmed its survival (Hudnut, 2006). The earthquake destroyed a lot of structures and this formed debris. The debris, in turn, polluted the coastal waters due to increased cases of coastal dumping.

Loss of facilities and infrastructure: The UN reported large damages to the environmental infrastructure, industrial sites, and buildings by the Tsunami. These included solid waste disposal systems along the coastal region, waste treatment, water and sanitation systems (Hudnut, 2006). After the earthquake, oil storage facilities spilled oil and gas into the ecosystem and this adversely affected marine life.

Nutrification of coastal waters and other catastrophic damages: The Tsunami resulted in numerous damages such as water eutrophication, decomposition of flora and fauna, chemical leakages, and salt-water intrusion that adversely affected the marine ecosystem. Materials with heavy nutrients were transported from the land into the sea and this resulted in phytoplankton blooms and secondary consumers population increase. With this extreme nitrification, hypoxic conditions on the marine life were instilled.

The resilience of the Ecosystem

It is important to build resilience on the ecosystem to Tsunami in the coastal region. The main aim of building resilience on the ecosystem is to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with earthquakes.  The government needs to direct its efforts on strengthening security and resilience on the marine ecosystem (Stein & Okal, 2005). The earthquake resilient strategies applicable in Sumatra Tsunami include the establishment of a credible disaster response plan and continuity of operations, governing procedures of the event, reconstruction standards, and the designing of a lifeline design standard of supporting recovery and continuity.

Many of the marine and coastal ecosystems that people relied on, such as beach barriers, mangroves, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, dunes, and marine fisheries were damaged by the Tsunami (Stein & Okal, 2005). Human activities can help mitigate this impact on the ecosystem. Resilience on marine life is achievable through resilience-oriented activities by people such as responsible dumping of waste, construction of strong buildings, and responsible fishery activities in the coastal regions.

Marine health and wellbeing are largely linked to the resilience ecosystems. When natural disasters such as Sumatra Tsunami occur in situations where natural resources have been degraded severe, the community finds it difficult to recover the losses created by the occurrence (Srinivas & Nakagawa, 2008). The examination of the 2004 tsunami enables us to determine the significant roles of healthy coastal and marine ecosystems play in buffering the impacts of the event to their lives. Resilient ecosystems play a major role in mitigating

Vulnerability of the Environment and Risk Zones

The environment is vulnerable to the impacts of Tsunami in numerous ways.

Vulnerable to pollution: In the 2004 Sumatra Tsunami, the event collected non-biodegradable materials to water, and this damaged the water environment in which marine life lives. Also, the tsunamis lead to chemical leakages to the soil which was carried away by water into the marine ecosystem (Sivakumar, 2009). In this regard, marine ecosystem and soil ecosystem are the risky zones as far as the tsunami is concerned.

The human habitat is vulnerable to collapsing: As a result of the Tsunami, a lot of buildings collapsed and this damaged human habitat. People were left homeless and also other properties were destroyed (Kain et al., 2014). Therefore, the tsunami made houses and other buildings a risky place for a human to stay at, and this leaves the environment vulnerable to fatal and dire deaths from the earthquakes.

Social-economic effects: There are vulnerabilities associated with coastal ecosystem due to tsunami threats. The socio-economic and physical dimensions of vulnerability are deemed possible due to the damage and loss of natural marine life such as coral reefs and others (Sivakumar, 2009). Engineers need to conduct a continuous vulnerability assessment to ensure early warning of the disaster.

Preventive Measures

Preventing Ecological Damage

Given the adverse impacts of the Sumatra Tsunami on the ecology, preventive measures need to be taken to ensure the same is not repeated in future. The possible preventive measures on the ecology include:

Proper disposal of waste products: The occurrence of an earthquake is accompanied by strong waves that carry away non-biodegradable products to the seas and this affects the ecology (Srinivas & Nakagawa, 2008). To prevent this from occurring, people should engage in responsible behavior of disposing of such wastes of plastic properly to mitigate the impacts of Tsunami.

Using strong pipes to prevent chemical leakages: Loose pipes burst in the vent earthquakes occur hence spilling oil and other harmful gases on the land. This damages the ecology and thus using strong pipes can help in preventing ecological damage by earthquakes.

Storing hazardous materials in sturdy places:  The spillage or mixing of chemicals is dangerous. People need to ensure that any hazardous materials are stored in the right containers with the strong latch in order to hinder earthquakes from extending their impacts on the ecology.

Risk Management and Risk Assessment

To achieve the objectives of preventing ecological damage, risk assessment and management are crucial steps to undertake by engineers.

Under the risk assessment, the potential losses associated with an earthquake include the destruction of property, mass killings of people, and the damage of marine life (Sridhar et al., 2006). Having this knowledge about the underlying risks from the hazard, risk management is now required.

Risk management would involve forming decisions of addressing the potential risks and losses of the hazard. Under this strategy, mapping and the Tsunami warning system would be introduced to create awareness to people about the damages of earthquakes and the actions required to prevent themselves from the damages (Kain et al., 2014).

How could this event have been handled for effectively?

The application of Tsunami warning system could have helped in preventing and handing the Sumatra instance effectively (Sridhar et al., 2006). People would have been notified on pressure recorders, seismic gauges, buoys, ride gauges and sensors that help in detecting earthquakes that lead to tsunamis.


In conclusion, the Sumatra Tsunami damaged properties, industrial buildings, and marine life in the ecosystem. The waves of Tsunami devastated all constructed buildings and industrial facilities along the coastal region. Many people died in the event. Also, the natural marine ecosystem such as coral reefs, mangroves, mudflats, and seagrasses was badly damaged by the tsunami. The tsunami affected over 12 countries along the coastal region and East Africa to Thailand. Tectonic subsidence and chemical liquidation were among the main contributors of the devastation. Since 2004 and until today, the Sumatra Tsunami remains as the world’s third largest earthquake ever recorded in history. The occurrence of the event was unprepared for by people. Therefore, mapping and tsunami warnings should be issued to all people to create awareness and preventive measures of earthquakes from occurring given their dire damages on the ecosystem. ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW


Hudnut, K.W. (2006). Geologic and geodetic aspects of the December 2004 great Sumatra Andaman earthquake and 2005 Nias-Simeulue earthquake: 2004 great Sumatra earthquakes and Indian Ocean tsunamis of December 2, 2004, and March 28, 2005. Earthquake Spectra 22(S3): S13–S42.

Kain, C., Gomez, C., Wassmer, P., Lavigne, F., & Hart, D. (2014). Truncated dunes as evidence of the 2004 tsunami in north Sumatra and environmental recovery post‐tsunami. New Zealand Geographer, 70(3), 165-178. 10.1111/nzg.12052

Kanamori, H. (2006). Seismological aspects of the December 2004 great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, 2004 great Sumatra earthquakes and Indian Ocean tsunamis of December 26, 2004, and March 28, 2005. Earthquake Spectra 22 (S3): S1–S12.

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Sivakumar, K. (2009). Impact of the 2004 tsunami on the Vulnerable Nicobar megapode Megapodius nicobariensis Oryx, 44 (01) DOI: 10.1017/S0030605309990810

Sridhar, R., Thangaradjou, T., Kannan, L., Ramachandran, A., & Jayakumar, S. (2006). Rapid assessment on the impact of tsunami on mangrove vegetation of the Great Nicobar island. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing, 34, 89-93.

Srinivas, H., & Nakagawa, Y. (2008). Environmental implications for disaster preparedness: Lessons Learnt from the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Journal of Environmental Management, 89 (1), 4-13 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.01.054

Stein, S., & Okal, E. A. (2005). Speed and size of the Sumatra earthquake. Nature, 434(7033), 581-2. Retrieved from http://myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/docview/204560274?accountid=14771

Titov, V., Rabinovich, A. B., Mofjeld, H. O., Thomson, R. E., & Frank, I. G. (2005). The global reach of the 26 December 2004 Sumatra tsunami. Science, 309, 2045-2048.

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