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What Happens When Tectonic Plates Suddenly Unzip?

On the 26th of December, 2004, two tectonic plates, which had been rubbing against each other for years below the ocean floor, were stuck. With their edges locked together, so much pressure was being generated that the upper plate started to resemble a tightly wound really gigantic spring.

When the increasing pressure reached its breaking point, the two tectonic plates could not stay locked. The fault started to rupture, thrusting upwards at least forty feet.

At twice the speed of a traveling bullet, the tectonic plates suddenly “unzipped” for a distance of more than 750 miles.

When this mega-thrust event occurred, it didn’t just lift the ocean floor. It also displaced the ocean above. That displaced water started to travel away from the fault.

A tsunami was thereby born, and it started to move at about 500 miles per hour.

What is the scientific explanation for the mega-thrust event which occurred below the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004?

Is there a way for scientists to know when a mega-thrust event is about to happen? Explain your answer.

Is there a way for scientists to know when a tsunami is about to happen? Explain your answer.


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