Case study: Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004

On 26 December 2004 a tsunami occurred in the Indian Ocean. It was the result of the Indio-Australian Plate subducting below the Eurasian Plate. It was caused by an earthquake measuring more than magnitude 9. The earthquake caused the seafloor to uplift, displacing the seawater above.

  • In open ocean the tsunami measured less than 1 metre high.
  • The tsunami travelled at speeds up to 800km per hour.
  • When the Tsunami reached the shores, the height of the wave increased to 15 metres in some areas.
Map of countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Main impacts

  • A quarter of a million people died.
  • Two million people were made homeless.
  • People were swept away in the waters, which arrived rapidly and with little warning.
  • Thirteen countries were affected, the worst being Indonesia.
  • Indonesia was hit by the tsunami first. Fourty-five minutes later the tsunami reached Thailand.
  • Mangrove swamps helped to act as a barrier to reduce the energy of the water in some areas.
  • Short-term aid, such as water purification tablets, temporary housing and medical supplies were given from international countries.
  • Islands reliant on tourism and fishing, such as the Maldives, had to rebuild their industries.
  • An early warning system between countries surrounding the Indian Ocean has been set up.
Move on to Test
next