A super slow earthquake that lasted 32 years in Indonesia

A ‘slow-motion’ earthquake lasting 32 years – the slowest ever recorded – eventually led to the catastrophic 1861 Sumatra earthquake, researchers at the NTU Singapore have found.

‘Slow motion’ earthquakes or ‘slow slip events’ refer to a type of long, drawn-out stress release phenomenon in which the Earth’s tectonic plates slide against one another without causing major ground shaking or destruction.

The NTU team made the surprise discovery while studying historic sea-levels using ancient corals called ‘microatolls’ at Simeulue Island, located off the coast of Sumatra.

The NTU research team says their study highlights potential missing factors or mismodelling in global earthquake risk assessments today.

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