Giant ionospheric disturbances excited by the M9.3 Sumatra earthquake of 26 December 2004



[1] An Mw 9.3 earthquake originated in the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra at 00:58:53 Universal Time (UT) on 26 December 2004. Two giant ionospheric disturbances at 01:19 and 04:10 UT are observed by a network of digital Doppler sounders in Taiwan. The first disturbance excited mainly by Rayleigh waves, which consists of a packet of short-period Doppler shift variations, results in vertical ionospheric fluctuations with a maximum velocity of about 70 m/s and displacement of about 200 m. The second disturbance, in a W-shaped pulse propagating at a horizontal speed of 360 ± 70 m/s, is attributable to coupling of the atmospheric gravity waves (AGW) excited by broad crustal uplift together with the following big tsunami waves around the earthquake source zone. The accompanying ionosonde data suggest that the AGW in the atmosphere may have caused the ionosphere to move up and down by about 40 km.