Conspiracy theories abound: Tsunami disaster was man made?

Well, as we wait patiently for california to fall into the sea after all those earthquakes, the 26 December tsunami disaster remains fresh in our minds. It was one of the worst disasters to have ever happened in the recent past, occurring on a magnitude far greater than it was given in terms of damage and loss of life. Whilst browsing the web for some information, I came across a most bizzarre website on the topic,Enter if you dare , that expounds the viewpoint that the giant waves were created by the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the Sunda Trench by who else, the USA.

I’m extremely skeptical of this happening, but as I read the webpage, it seems that some insightful points were brought up, e.g. no new land being thrust form the ocean bed, violation of Archimedes’ principles, etc. Furthermore, the author’s assertion that the 26 December earthquake’s magnitude was only 6.4 may be corroborated with recounts by residents of Singapore and Malaysia who say that this earthquake was felt less strongly than the next one that hit Sumatra, that was recorded as being 8.7. Now, let me state that I am quite deficient in knowledge regarding these plate tectonics and its study, so I may not be the best person to judge. Can what the author says have an inkling of truth to it?

Hi Concrete!

Thanks for the link. It’s quite entertaining.

Even a small earthquake releases far more energy than any atomic weapon we’re anywhere close to being able to build. And Archimedes’ Principle holds always, and can no more be violated by an atomic bomb than it can be by an earthquake. As for the magnitude of the quake, so what? It didn’t kill people by shaking them, it killed by causing a tsunami.

the idea is past ridiculous. the simplest comment is that the measured output from that earthquake (and almost any other earthquake) far exceeds the energy of all the nuclear devices in the world-though I am not a seismologist.
Earthquakes are detected worldwide by many different nations and groups. A nuclear weapon blast is distinct from an earthquake. None of the hundreds of people who studied this event would have failed to note the difference.

The author of the web site you link to has forayed deep into tinfoil hat territory.

First and foremost, the seismic character of an earthquake compared to a nuclear explosion is notably different. This difference is in fact one of the means by which adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (against any nuclear weapons testing or explosion) is being monitored.

As an illustration, have a look at the seismograph recordings depicted in the center of this web page hosted by the Swiss Seismological Service. The seismic trace for a nuclear explosion (shown in red) begins with an abrupt, high-amplitude signal for a P-wave (the primary wave measured) that fairly quickly subsides to something close to background levels, followed by an S-wave (surface wave signal) that is not very prominent above background levels. By contrast, the seismic trace of an earthquake (shown in blue) begins with a gradual buildup to a low-amplitude P-wave, followed by a gradual buildup to a relatively long-lasting S-wave that takes nearly as much time to subside as it did to build up.

IF any nation had a nuclear device capable of releasing as much energy as was released by the Dec. 26, 2004 quake, you can be damn sure that seismic stations all over the world would have been able to make the distinction.

(For further info on the CTBT and enforcement, see e.g. this page, this page and this page.)

Second, the bolded portion of this statement (bolding mine):

is completely false. When one side of a fault (in this case, the Burma microplate side of the Sumatra Fault) is displaced up and over the other side (here, the Indian plate), there is no “equality” of plate motion that results in no displacement of the overlying seawater. The water directly above the overthrust plate will be shoved upward at first, since water is nearly incompressible, before it begins to flow outward. You can test this for yourself in your kitchen sink: Fill the sink with water; place your hands (palm-side down, thumbs tucked in) side by side in the sink, so that they form a flat surface under the water; then abruptly move one hand up while moving the other hand down by the same amount. Does the surface of the water remain undisturbed, as your web author would suggest?

With regard to the question of why the M=8.7 March 2005 earthquake in Sumatra did not generate a tsunami while the M=9.2 December 2004 earthquake did: Earthquake magnitude is a measure of the total energy released by an earthquake, and is not directly (or even necessarily) associated with a specific amount of surface displacement that could trigger a tsunami, especially along a subduction zone where the surface area of the rupture can extend hundreds of kilometers into the Earth. There is nothing especially mystical or nefarious about the occurrence (or lack thereof) of a tsunami for any given quake.

The rest of the stuff he goes on about - e.g., The New York Times somehow forced Australian scientists to lie about their ability to measure large-magnitude quakes - is just plain bizarre, inspired it seems by a hefty doses of ignorance and paranoia. By the time he gets to political statements like this one:

You must know you’re dealing with a nutter. I wouldn’t give credence to anything this man says.

Nice, thanks for the replies. It amazes me how almost anything can be manipulated and twisted to fit some weird viewpoint, and that there are people out there who really believe these things. I think it really cheapens the tragedy, when people overlook the event and try to make it into another blamefest.

Nope. Sorry. Doesn’t even register on my Insane-o-Meter when I’ve just come from reading how natural disasters are caused by (and I quote) “the Earth’s revultion to sexual immorality”. Apparently the tsunami came about because of god’s earth rejecting the evils of child prositution in Indochina. And apparently god and the earth thought the best way to deal with this was to drown a whole lot of child prostitutes.

No, it takes more than that to surprise me about the twisted shapes humans can turn their minds into.

I have to agree with Chronos, rbroome and sunfish. Complete and utter tinfoil hat time.