On January 10, 2012, a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, prompting officials to issue a brief tsunami warning.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is reporting that the earthquake occurred at 18:37:01 UTC (or 12:37:01 a.m. on January 11, 2012 at the epicenter), and struck at a depth of 29.1 kilometers (18.1 miles).
NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is reporting that a destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data. There was some concern for moderate tsunami impacts on coastal areas located near the epicenter, which prompted Indonesian officials to issue a brief tsunami warning. The localized threat has now passed and the tsunami warning was lifted approximately three hours after the earthquake.
There have been no immediate reports of injuries or building damage according to recent news reports.
On December 26, 2004, Indonesia experienced one of the deadliest tsunamis in history after a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Sumatra.
According to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude are rare and occur at a frequency of about one per year. However, earthquakes ranging from 7.0 to 7.9 in magnitude are more common and occur at a frequency of about 15 per year.
USGS has a useful web page titled “Did you feel it?” where you can share information on your experience of an earthquake. So far 34 people have reported feeling weak to light shaking during the January 10, 2012, earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.