Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Aceh Tsunami Height

The tsunami that hit Aceh in 2004 was a BIG tsunami.

Wave heights averaged between 10-15 meters at the coast for close to 250 km of coastline between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh.

The highest water mark was at Leupong- 35 m. This is the number that people often quote as being the "size" of the tsunami.

As you can see from the picture, this is where the tsunami splashed against a cliff, scouring the soil and trees off to the bedrock. To the right of the picture, the "trim line" drops back down to the 15 m height that is common along the coastline.

The 2004 tsunami was a massive wave, both in its height on the coastlines of Aceh, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Somalia and the others, and by its basinwide nature. But it is also important to recognize that this is NOT the event we should be planning for. This event occurs once every 100-500 years. There has been 3 tsunamis averaging 3-8 m since 2004 that killed over 1,000 people. These events are not yet predictable, but simple coastal planning including early warning systems and healthy coastal ecosystems can help communities weather the storm.

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