2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


HORTON, Benjamin P.1, BIRD, Michael2, COWIE, Susan2, GRUNDY-WARR, Carl3, HAWKES, Andrea1, TAN SHAU HWAI, Aileen4, LAW, Lisa2, MACGREGOR, Colin2, NOTT, Jonathan5 and ONG, Jin Eong4, (1)Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Univ of Pennsylvania, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (2)School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, AL KY16 9AL, United Kingdom, (3)Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Singapore, Singapore, 117570, (4)Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, 11800, Malaysia, (5)School of Tropical Environmental Studies and Geography, James Cook Univ, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia, bphorton@sas.upenn.edu

We used a suite of research methods drawn from both the natural and social sciences to elucidate the immediate pre- and post-tsunami trajectory of events and impacts associated with the 2004 tsunami catastrophe in the Indian Ocean. Along the west coast of the Malay Thai Peninsula, we selected specific sites with different physiographic conditions which varied in nature and scale of social and physical impacts resulting from the tsunami. We made measurements of land elevation, tsunami flow depth, number and direction of waves, and sediment deposit character and thickness. Furthermore, we obtained information on 2004 tsunami characteristics and precursor ‘warning signs' (ocean run-out; numbers and spacing of waves; animal behaviors; sound) from ‘eye witness interviews'. These interviews also enabled us to determine the impact of the tsunami on human actions (or reactions), public services, everyday activities, casualties and injuries, emergency management agencies, the degree of effectiveness of the institutional response, informal communication networks, and cultural practices. Thus, we assessed the implications of the identified environmental changes for local livelihood status and reviewed the understanding of local authorities and populations and how they are responding to the challenges and, possibly, opportunities offered by catastrophic environmental change. Finally, we found stratigraphic archives of former abrupt events and rapid changes.