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Sumatra earthquake in April was caused by up to five cracks in the Earth

The 8.6-magnitude earthquake, the 11th largest since 1900, saw the faults acting in concert and sliding sideways to create a series of massive ruptures.

earthquake faultEnlarge
A new study showed that a massive earthquake in Sumatra was caused by up to five faults in the Earth. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

An earthquake in Sumatra in April was caused by up to five faults in the tectonic plates under the ocean floor a new study said.

The 8.6-magnitude earthquake, the 11th largest since 1900, saw the faults acting in concert and sliding sideways to create a series of massive ruptures.

Researchers believe that this could be an early sign of the splitting of the Indo-Australian plate underneath the island.

“For decades, we’ve known this Indo-Australian plate is deforming internally and it’s not really acting like a rigid body,” said Keith Koper, a study author and an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Utah, reported Discovery News.

“We think this will ultimately become a plate boundary, but we have to see what the earth decides.”

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Yet depsite the power of the quake, reported GlobalPost, there was no tsunami due to the nature of what are called "slip-strike" earthquakes that move vertically.

These are less deadly than "subduction" quakes that tend to move horizontally.

The 2004 earthquake that caused the tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand was a result of the latter type of earthquake.

Bloomberg said that the April quake lasted for a whopping two minutes and 40 seconds due to the number of consecutive eruptions.

The fifth fault that cracked open caused a 8.2-magnitude aftershock.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120926/sumatra-earthquake-april-was-caused-five-cracks-the-earth