Those beaches will be open for this weekend

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Last updated on October 27th, 2019 at 02:49 pm

Via Wizbang, an astonishing report translated from

Just minutes after the earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Sunday morning, Thailand’s foremost meteorological experts were sitting together in a crisis meeting. But they decided not to warn about the tsunami “out of courtesy to the tourist industry”, writes the Thailand daily newspaper The Nation.

The experts got the news around 8:00 am on Sunday morning local time. An hour later, the first massive wave struck. But the experts started to discuss the economic impacts when they were discussing if a tsunami warning should be made. The main argument against such a warning was that there have not been any floods in 300 years. Also, the experts believed the Indonesian island Sumatra would be a “cushion” for the southern coast of Thailand. The experts also had bad information; they thought the tremor was 8.1. A similar earthquake occurred in the same area in 2002 with no flooding at all.

The report – which the Washington Post cautions has not been independently confirmed – contains this quote:

“We finally decided not to do anything because the tourist season was in full swing. The hotels were 100% booked full. What if we issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, and nothing had happened. What would be the outcome? The tourist industry would be immediately hurt. Our department would not be able to endure a lawsuit …”

We need more information on this.

Posted by Tim B. on 12/29/2004 at 05:20 PM
    1. You can see the full report from The Nation here.

      Posted by Hanyu on 2004 12 29 at 07:02 PM • permalink


    1. A tremor of 8.1 vs 9 did not produce a tsunami?

      Points to a possible bolide impact rather than an earth rattle and shake which caused the disaster, as previously mooted a few topics below.

      So I stand by my initial interpretation until contrary, observed data arrive.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 08:15 PM • permalink


    1. Well, I am sure they did their best. That just shows how difficult it is to predict such disasters.

      >Our department would not be able to endure a lawsuit …

      But now they will be flooded with lawsuits!

      Posted by jorgen on 2004 12 29 at 08:37 PM • permalink


    1. Jorgen,

      that is a terribly bad pun ……

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 08:38 PM • permalink


    1. shades of steven spielbergs “Jaws’ with the Thai authorities ?

      Posted by davo on 2004 12 29 at 08:53 PM • permalink


    1. G’day Louis,

      I realize that this is a matter of faith for you and no contrary information will affect you but just in case you manage to influence somebody with your “interesting” viewpoint it is worth addressing your point.

      The CTBTO (actually the Provisional Technical Secretariat of Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation) is in the process of putting together the International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect nuclear testing.  It uses hydrophones, seismic stations, infrasound as well as the more standard nuclear stuff.  The Asia-Pacific portions of this are substantially complete (because Australia and Japan have made it a high priority).

      The IMS determined the timing and magnitude of the explosions that sunk the Kursk – it is part of the system that was used to determine the epicentre of the quake that caused this.  Even if we ignore the problems with the absence of ejecta – your bollide impact theory would have given rise to surface sequelae that would have been noted by the infrasound stations (which are specifically looking for explosions in water).

      Louis – it is entirely possible that you are not stupid but your theory is one of the most profoundly stupid things I have ever seen posted on the internet.  Congratulations – that is an amazing feat.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 08:59 PM • permalink


    1. that gorge Bush and the CIA he has technology 2 make under-sea erth-quakes Y dont U all wake up and open UR eyes!!

      Posted by Lucky Nutsacks on 2004 12 29 at 09:08 PM • permalink


    1. Thanks Russell for your remarks,

      You have not presented one bit of data to contradict my hypothesis, apart from displaying your erudition.

      Obviously not too many listening devices in that area, otherwise it would not have been such a surprise. CBBTO is putting the monitoring system in place? So they would never have worked it out since, as you say, it is in progress.

      It is not a matter of faith for me either, but seems it is a matter of faith for you that anything which comes out from the USGS is 100% correct.

      From the early reports on where the waves hit when, and where, I thought that odd for a submarine landslide or plate movement. The wave motion was also somewhat assymetric.

      Nuclear testing? Bit behind the times are we not?

      Unfortunately Russell, contrary data will convince me – all that has been posted are opinions, and interpretations of seismological data. No one yet has been there to look at the sea bed. Difficult, monsoon season and all that, so visibility will be difficult.

      And it seems you have had little experience with geophysicists or you would not be so certain of your opinions.

      But hey, what the hell would I know.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 09:21 PM • permalink


    1. G’day Louis,

      While you might be open to new information you have to actually read what is written for it to have an effect upon your opinons.

      As noted above – the Asia-Pacific portions of the IMS are substantially complete – they can detect any explosion of relevance in our region.  Water is a particularly good environment in which to detect explosions – hence the example of the Kursk which was in the 0.1kT range and took place on the opposite side of the world but was easily detected by the Cape Leuwin hydrophone station.

      If a bollide impact took place in the water the hydrophones would have detected it.  No new efforts would be needed to detect such an impact because we are looking for them 24/7.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 09:34 PM • permalink


    1. Russell,

      Nne extra slight problem, we don’t have any empirical data of a bolide hitting the ocean, then hitting the crust to gives us data what to expect. That being the case, the computer models won’t incorporate it into their output.

      Lots of theoretical data, but no real data.

      The epicentre was 30 km depth, and I will spend the next day seeing where the plate boundaries and the location of the subduction boundaries are.

      The epicentre seems a bit shallow for where it is.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 09:40 PM • permalink


    1. Louis,

      The hydrophones detect explosions in water and are relatively insensitive to seismic events (even quite large earthquakes are minor events to the hydrophone).  They would have been maxed out by a your posited bollide impact – but only slightly affected by the earthquake.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 09:48 PM • permalink


    1. Which hydrophones Russell?

      A bolide impact would be almost indistinguishable from an earthquake – very low frequencies are involved. Seismographs placed on the moon detected heaps of moonquakes, but it was soon worked out they were picking up meteoric impacts.

      Surficial explosions like nuclear ones, are high frequency compared to earthquakes.

      Hence your nuclear monitoring devices would have filtered it out.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:06 PM • permalink


    1. Russell,

      And a bolide impact is not an explosion, in terms that you understand a nuclear one to be. An impact is not an explosion. The only thing they share is a release of energy.

      As the USGS notes, their report is preliminary until they can study all the data. It is Christmas you know, and public servants being public servants, it will be a while.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:11 PM • permalink


    1. louis
      surely i a metorite had hit:-
      1- large amounts of water would have been sent up into the atmosphere and would have been detected.
      2 more than one tidal wave would have been generated- the first travelling on the surface and the second, as the meteorite struck and caused the plates to move, traveling along the bottom of the ocean.
      Did the wave actually travel along the surface?

      Posted by davo on 2004 12 29 at 10:13 PM • permalink


    1. Louis,

      Which hydrophones…?

      Once again we come up against the “reading” problem.  I am referring to the hydrophones of the IMS, including the hydrophones at the station at Cape Leuwin in WA.

      A bolide impact in all but the shallowest of estuarine waters would involve a set of high freqency hydrophone events accompanied by time coincident seismic events.  Your assertion that it would look like an earthquake is simply bizarre.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 10:16 PM • permalink


    1. OK, Louis, first of all, the hydrophone and seismic monitoring technology has been around for decades.  Check out for a discussion on the original test ban treaty discussion.  It just mentions it, this is not a technical discussion.  This is a factual back up of Russell’s statement.

      Second, hit these links for epicenter data:

      Here’s a summary from the US Geological Survey, including maps:


      Here’s the “preliminary earthquake report” on the quake, which is a short read:


      This page has links to really good imagery of the tsunami:


      Including an animation of the tsunami wave:  HYPERLINK

      This took me about 20 minutes with Google to find.  At that, I already had the USGS web site in mind (professional experience).

      Third, how about that $1000US bet myself and another poster put on the table on this being quake or strike?  Proceeds go to a suitable disaster relief fund.

      Said bet being null and void if you will simply stop spouting off on something that you clearly know little to nothing about.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2004 12 29 at 10:22 PM • permalink


    1. “Also, the experts believed the Indonesian island Sumatra would be a “cushion” for the southern coast of Thailand”
      When i heard of the “undersea” earthquake i thought tsunami too, having just read a book on Japeanese disasters.
      I wonder how many of you bloggers had the same reactions.

      Posted by davo on 2004 12 29 at 10:23 PM • permalink


    1. Louis,

      And a bolide impact is not an explosion, in terms that you understand a nuclear one to be.

      You can’t be serious – a bollide impact of any relevant scale is an explosion quite comparable to a nuclear explosion.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 10:26 PM • permalink


    1. Agreed, Russell.  The only difference is that a bollide impact does not generate significant nuclear radiation; I once read that there might be a brief release of gamma radiation, but that’s it.

      A hint, Louis:  anyone understanding basic physics would understand “potential gravitational energy”, or “kinetic energy”.

      Methinks that you are just a troll trying to stir things up.  Folks, it’s better to ignore this turkey.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2004 12 29 at 10:30 PM • permalink


    1. G’day The_Real_JeffS


      I apologise for stepping in it.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 10:32 PM • permalink



      is an interesting reference in the literature which suggests we know very little on what goes on in this part of the world.

      Jeffs, I have read all that you posted from the USGS. Thanks.

      As for the animations, great – and where is the video footage for the hour preceding the quake which would be necessary to support your, and of course, my case. Satellites are not usually in geostationary orbit unless they need to be be there for a specific reason.

      All the sat imagery seems to be “post event”. We need “Pre event” imagery.

      You can bet what ever you want, science is science, and while my hypothesis is controversial, it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Science is about learning from errors, since that is what science is all about, but since you are so certain, why on earth should I bet in the first place.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:34 PM • permalink


    1. Davo,

      the epicentre was 250 km awa from land, the impact was in early morning, and as a guide, standing at the sea shore, the horizon is ~ 11 km away. Who would have seen a spray 250 km away over the horizon.

      And just when is it prayer time too for them – if it coincided no one should have seen it. Prayer is 5 times a day.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:36 PM • permalink


    1. No Russell,

      a nuclear explosion is essentially a point explosion conisdering the mass of material contributing to the explosion.
      A bolide is a few orders of magnitude larger in mass, hence will produce lower frequency sound waves.

      Like the difference between exploding a stick of gelignite and a few pounds of ammonium nitrate. Former produces high frequency waves, with a near square wave front. The ammonium nitrate produces a slower explosion, lower frequency.

      Gelly is used to ignite the ammonium nitrate, usually.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:40 PM • permalink


    1. Louis.

      With apologies to JeffS – I can’t resist.

      Your points are profoundly silly – you are either a troll or …. nah! I’ll just stick with troll.

      I feel realy silly for falling for it.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 10:41 PM • permalink


    1. The_Real_Jeffs

      Your reference to the documentation to the nuclear seismic monitoring is that – basically a memo stating what they intend to do. Typical UN or bureaucratic persiflage.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:42 PM • permalink


    1. Just for the record Russell,

      what would your technical background be?

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:44 PM • permalink


    1. Sorry Louis,

      A noted above I am not playing anymore.

      Posted by Russell on 2004 12 29 at 10:47 PM • permalink


    1. Just for the record Louis, other than waking up and telling yourself ‘oh, it must have been a bolide’, with no other supporting data than your own guestimation, what the hell is your background?


      Posted by Wind Rider on 2004 12 29 at 10:50 PM • permalink


    1. As expected Russell, along with your fellow travellers.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:51 PM • permalink


    1. Wind Rider,

      I am a professional geologist, in the business since 1970?

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 10:53 PM • permalink


    1. “in the business since 1970”

      translation I got a job when the 60s ended.

      => a hippy.

      Posted by Rob Read on 2004 12 29 at 11:02 PM • permalink


    1. Rob Read,

      where on earth do your get your ideas from. I am part of the mining business, and fella, your ignorance seems to be bliss.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 11:12 PM • permalink


    1. Back to the Tsunami

      Thailand – just saw the ABC news here in Perth, and where Thailand is, the epicentre and Sumatra, I can understand what the Thai Authorities were concluding.

      Sumatra was indeed between them and the earthquake.

      So how on earth did the wave front cause so much damage to Thailand, unless something fell into the sea between Sumatra and Thailand.

      Unless of course the tsunami jumped over Sumatra, and then continued to Thailand.

      These are initial interpretations which need more study.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 11:16 PM • permalink


    1. Back on thread…..

      What if we issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, and nothing had happened…

      Unfortunately, there is precedence for this opinion.

      Hawaii has an established tsunami alert system, and I’ve read ( that they are very reluctant to sound the alarm without definitive proof, for exactly the reasons noted in the article.  And this after major tsunamis since 1946 (

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2004 12 29 at 11:30 PM • permalink


    1. >”So how on earth did the wave front cause so much damage to Thailand,”

      The following is an animation of the tsunami

      Posted by jorgen on 2004 12 29 at 11:32 PM • permalink


    1. Jorgen,

      The animation is quite inaccurate, the epicentre, and therefore the focus of the wavefronts, is not shown by the animation you have linked to. It is much further to the south.

      I think the animation was made from the results, rather than from the facts.

      The epicentre was at 3.267�N, 95.821�E

      It is from this point which the initial wave fronts need to originate.

      All the rest of the activity were aftershocks, which should not have produced anything which would have worried the Thai authorities.

      Herein is the problem.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 29 at 11:37 PM • permalink


    1. Louis, ENOUGH. You are off-topic, and what is more, you are irritating everyone. This subject is a little too important for you to hang your personal obsessions on. Want your account suspended? </END ADMIN>


      Posted by Andrea Harris on 2004 12 29 at 11:53 PM • permalink


    1. Andrea,

      Sure, but just remember who rattled whom ?

      I’ll refrain from further off topic comments.

      Posted by Louis on 2004 12 30 at 12:04 AM • permalink


    1. Now I know the rule is don’t feed the troll & I haven’t touched physics since high school but in relation to Louis’points one wouldn’t a force through water behave like a wave therfore be able to bypass Sumatra and two a shift in plates could be along the plates therefore not at a specific point and would lead to an asymetric wave pattern?

      I repeat I have not looked at this sort of thing for nearly 20 years but whilst initially interesting Louis is quickly becoming a tiger stone salesman. (ie. this stone will keep away tigers. How? Do you see any tigers?)

      Posted by Just Another Bloody Lawyer on 2004 12 30 at 12:05 AM • permalink


    1. hmm, with louis i believe we are dealing not with a “bollide” impact but rather a “bollocks” impact…

      Posted by Mr. Bingley on 2004 12 30 at 02:47 AM • permalink


    1. >The animation is quite inaccurate,

      Louis, tell Unesco. But does a tsunami have to start at the epicenter?

      Posted by jorgen on 2004 12 30 at 02:52 AM • permalink


    1. Coming to think of it, Louis, if the tsunami was caused by a big stone falling in the water, the tsunami would have started at the epicenter.  Sounds to me that you are not right this time round.

      Posted by jorgen on 2004 12 30 at 03:35 AM • permalink


    1. First had it been a bollide impact it would have been �seen� by the many orbiting satellites

      Second a bollide impact would have a different seismogram from an earthquake (which has a distinct signature) and a different Centroid-Moment Tensor (CMT).  Want data? Come and get it.

      For everyone else: IRIS has an almost �real time� seismic monitor of earthquakes through out the world which is update whenever one occurs. Click link here.

      Posted by Mike SC USA on 2004 12 30 at 03:59 AM • permalink


    1. There is considerable debate going on about evacuation procedures in these cases.  It’s not just the tourist dollar lobby or the looking stupid if your wrong lobby.  There is a great deal of logistical difficulty in moving large amounts of people from a given area.  Many think that you just might kill more people in the process.  Exhibit 1 is Southern California.  How do you move everyone out of the Southern California corridor from San Diego to Santa Barbara?  I believe that many in the scientific community are uncertain about giving out an earthquake warning even if they were reasonably sure of their prediction.
      How would you get everyone off of Phuket anyway?  Just a YoJimbo thought.

      Posted by yojimbo on 2004 12 30 at 05:40 AM • permalink


    1. Yojimbo,

      From what I have read, moving inland as little as one mile would’ve saved nearly everyone that was killed on land.  (I can’t remember the exact source as I’ve read so many news-sites, blogs, etc, over the last few days).  Once the wave hits land it rapidly loses force.  So, a huge evacuation effort would not have been required, just getting everyone moving inland would’ve.  And most people can cover one mile in what, 10 – 15 minutes.

      Posted by David Crawford on 2004 12 30 at 08:39 AM • permalink


  1. Louis’ bolide theory is ridiculous, but that doesn’t make him a troll, it just makes him look dumb.

    Posted by Sortelli on 2004 12 30 at 05:29 PM • perma