Coral evidence for earthquake recurrence and an A.D. 1390–1455 cluster at the south end of the 2004 Aceh–Andaman rupture

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 115, Number B10 (2010)




Coral records of relative sea level change provide a history of vertical interseismic and coseismic deformation along the coast of northern Simeulue Island, Sumatra, and reveal details about earthquakes in the 10th and 14th–15th centuries A.D. along the southern end of the December 2004 Mw 9.2 Sunda megathrust rupture. Over a 56 year period between A.D. 1390 and 1455, northern Simeulue experienced a cluster of megathrust ruptures, associated with total uplift that was considerably more than in 2004. Uplifted corals at two sites constrain the first event of the cluster to A.D. 1393 ± 3 and 1394 ± 2 (2σ). A smaller but well-substantiated uplift occurred in northern Simeulue in 1430 ± 3. An inferred third uplift, in A.D. 1450 ± 3, killed all corals on the reef flats of northern Simeulue. The amount of uplift during this third event, though confirmed only to have exceeded 28 and 41 cm at two sites, probably surpassed the 100 and 44 cm that occurred, respectively, at those sites in 2004, and it was likely more than in 2004 over all of northern Simeulue. The evidence for past earthquake clustering combined with the inference of considerably greater uplift in A.D. 1390–1455 than in 2004 suggests that strain may still be stored along the southernmost part of the 2004 rupture. Interseismic subsidence rates recorded by northern Simeulue coral microatolls have varied by up to a factor of 4 at some sites from one earthquake cycle to another.