Natural Hazards

, Volume 77, Supplement 1, pp 65–74 | Cite as

Is tidal forcing critical to trigger large Sumatra earthquakes?

Original Paper


Complexity in the earthquake mechanism is manifested in different forms such as fractal distribution, clustering of seismicity, etc., and characterized as critical phenomenon. Occurrences of earthquakes generally represent the state of metastable equilibrium. The Andaman–Sumatra subduction zone is one of the most seismically active corridors (possibly in metastable state) in the world. Recently, the region faced three major earthquakes of magnitude more than 8.5 (M ~ 9.1 on December 26, 2004; M ~ 8.6 on March 28, 2005; M ~ 8.6 on April 11, 2012). Researchers have suggested multiple causes of earthquake generation in this region including the one with possible correlation of tidal stresses with earthquake occurrences. The latter issue, however, has been hotly debated in view of the fact that a small stress generated due to tidal forcing cannot cause such a bigger magnitude earthquake. We study here the impact of tidal forcing on critically generated earthquake phenomena. We examined the statistical behavior of recurrence time interval of earthquakes using the available data for period of about 40 years from 1973 to 2013. We constrain the simple empirical toy model using the concept of catastrophe theory to evaluate the impact of small tidal forcing on the critical state of earthquakes occurrences. In addition to the major role of Helmholtz free energy during the plate motion, our analysis suggests that the stability and critical behavior of the earthquake in Sumatra region could be associated with tidal forcing, however, only for triggering of some of the “Catastrophic–Chaotic” earthquake phenomenon.


Earthquake Tidal triggering Nonlinear Fractal Critical phenomenon Catastrophe theory Sumatra 



We thank Director, CSIR-NGRI for support and permission to publish the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIR-National Geophysical Research InstituteHyderabadIndia

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