Television

'An Unstoppable Wave' on Discovery this Christmas

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MUMBAI: A year ago on 26 December 2004, one of the most severe natural disasters seen in recent times struck Asia. Tsunami affected several countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka and South India. Now Discovery looks at what caused the tragedy.

It will air Unstoppable Wave on 25 December 2005 at 8 pm with a repeat on 26 December 2005 at the same time.

An international team of 27 scientists spent 17 days at sea exploring the seafloor off the coast of Sumatra. The expedition reveals new geological evidence that the sea floor split from the 9.2 magnitude Great Sumatra earthquake caused the Tsunami. It was not caused by a landslide as had been thought by some.

The special on Discovery takes viewers deep into the abyss. A wave only 20 metres tall but three miles deep travelled at over 500 miles an hour carrying with it sand and rocks. The show uses computer graphics to explain changes in the faultlines that resulted in the raising of the seabed.

The expedition was funded by Discovery US, BBC and ProSieben. Discovery India brand director Raja Balasubramaniam says, "We are proud to provide the resources enabling leading experts to explore scientific phenomenon quickly and accurately while also immersing viewers in a part of the world they have never seen before. We hope that Discovery's participation in such scientific endeavours will help push science further into the future."

At a screening this afternoon marine biologist Dr. Baban Ingole who was the only Asian who was part of the expedition says that the expedition is helping scientists to predict the next Tsunami. He lamented that there was no Tsunami warning system last year. He noted that the scientists used an ROV to examine the seabed. He said that for millions of years the plate under the Indian Ocean has been travelling East pushing the Asian Plate which travels West. 200 years ago the edges of these plates locked together and continued to push against each other. Forces continued to bend the upper plate down. Finally the strain became too much.

The entire fault line in the Indian Ocean runs for 1600 miles. Last year only half of it ruptured. Scientists believe that the other half could break at any time. In addition, 500 miles of the US coastline is believed to be under threat from the Cascadia fault line. 500,000 people living betwen Northern California and Vancouver in Canada are at risk, should something happen. The new computer model from this expedition shows that the disaster might be much worse than what agencies have prepared for.

 

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