Science Friday: 2005 Sumatra Earthquake Stopped by Topography | Men DO Have a Better Sense of Direction


New geophysical data show that fault slip during the March 2005 magnitude 8.7 (Mw) earthquake off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia (also referred to as the Simeulue-Nias earthquake), was stopped by the topography on the downgoing plate.

Earthquakes in , where one tectonic plate is forced beneath another, usually break only a part of the plate boundary fault. The pieces that break independently are known as segments. Topography on the top of the downgoing plate has often been suggested a cause of this segmentation, but there are few examples where this topography is as well-known as well as the details of rupture.

Data collected over the subduction zone offshore of Sumatra, Indonesia, has enabled the top of the downgoing plate to be mapped across a long-lived segment boundary at one end of the . Seismic reflection data, similar to that used to find oil reserves, gives a detailed image of the shape of the downgoing plate. A 3-km high on the top of the plate over a 15-km by 30-km region matches where the 2005 stopped. The topographic high appears to strengthen the plate boundary, and only very large earthquakes would break through this barrier.


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Men have better sense of direction than women, study suggests

Different approaches to the same navigational tasks underscore sex-linked differences

December 7, 2015
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Researchers studied women and men using fMRI during wayfinding tasks in a recently learned virtual environment. Men consistently performed better than women. When women were given a drop of testosterone under their tongue, however, their ability to orient themselves along the four cardinal directions improved.



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