Padang, the capital of Indonesia’s West Sumatra province, sits in the crosshairs of some of the world’s most turbulent fault lines. Indonesia is situated near the convergence of the Eurasian, Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which have pressed against each other for millennia, and lies near the long, underwater Sumatran fault line, which is approximately 130 miles off the west coast of Sumatra. These fault lines are part of the “ring of fire,” an enormous horseshoe-shaped band of seismic stress surrounding the Pacific Ocean.
The undersea earthquake of 2004 occurred along the fault where the Indo-Australian Plate is slipping beneath the Eurasian Plate; it triggered the horrific tsunami that killed approximately 150,000 people, and was estimated to have produced the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. Yet that quake may have increased the danger elsewhere in the region by increasing pressure on some parts of the Sumatran fault.
In a recent article published in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists report forecast yet another large earthquake for Padang, the capital of west Sumatra, in the aftermath of the city’s 2009 earthquake. The expected tremor of magnitude 8.5 or higher could rumble sometime in the next decade, and could trigger another tsunami.