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The massive earthquake off Indonesia surprised scientists: Usually this type of jolt isn't this powerful. ....
Yesterday's magnitude-8.6 occurred along a strike-slip fault line similar to California's San Andreas Fault. Scientists say it's rare for strike-slip quakes, in which blocks of rocks slide horizontally past each other, to be this large.
"It's clearly a bit of an odd duck," said seismologist Susan Hough of the US Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif.....
A preliminary analysis indicates one side of the fault lurched 70 feet past the other a major reason for the quake's size. By contrast, during the 1906 magnitude-7.8 San Francisco earthquake along the San Andreas perhaps the best known strike-slip event the ground shifted 15 feet. The Sumatra coast has been rattled by three strong strike-slip quakes since 2004, but yesterday's was the largest.