Skip to main content

Feasibility study on the potential of satellite altimetry for detecting seismic geoid changes due to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake


Sea surface height data obtained by satellite altimetry from Jason-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon were analyzed to explore the possibility of a seismic geoid change due to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. This analysis identified a weakly positive geoid change in a region between the trench and outer arc. A subsequent investigation of the characteristics of this coseismic geoid change based on the dislocation theory revealed that a positive peak should indicate the upper edge of the high-slipped area or asperity and that a negative peak is responsible for the lower edge of the earthquake fault. An attempt at modeling the difference in the sea level anomaly failed to explain the observation since a large scatter in the original dataset obstructed its confirmation.


  • Ammon, C. J., C. Ji, H. Thio, D. Robinson, S. Ni, V. Hjorleifsdottir, H. Kanamori, T. Lay, S. Das, D. Helmberger, G. Ichinose, J. Polet, and D. Wald, Rupture process of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, Science, 308, 1133–1139, 2005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bird, P., An updated digital model of plate boundaries, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 4, 1027, doi:10.1029/2001GC00252, 2003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gower, J., Jason 1 Detects the 26 December 2004 Tsunami, EOS Trans. AGU, 86, 37–38, 2005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Han, S. C., C. K. Shum, M. Bevis, C. Ji, and C. Y. Kuo, Crustal dilatation observed by GRACE after the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, Science, 313, 658–662, 2006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayashi, Y., N. Hamada, T. Kuragano, T. Sakurai, H. Takayama, Y. Hasegawa, and K. Hirata, Detection of the seismic geoid change due to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake from satellite altimetry, Chikyu Monthly, extra 56, 32–37, 2006 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirata, K., K. Satake, Y. Tanioka, T. Kuragano, Y. Hasegawa, Y. Hayashi, and N. Hamada, The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: Tsunami source model from satellite altimetry, Earth Planets Space, 58, 195–201, 2006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ishii, M., P. M. Shearer, H. Houston, and J. E. Vidale, Extent, duration and speed of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake imaged by the Hi-Net array, Nature, 435, 933–936, 2005.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCloskey, J., S. S. Nalbant, and S. Steacy, Earthquake risk from co-seismic stress, Nature, 434, 291, 2005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, TOPEX/Poseidon: Ocean Surface Topography Experiment,, 2001a.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Jason-1: An Ocean Odyssey—Ocean Data from Space,, 2001b.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Earthquake Information Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Preliminary determinations of epicenters weekly listing,, 2005.

    Google Scholar 

  • Okubo, S., Potential and gravity changes raised by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions—Formulation on the dislocation theory, J. Geod. Soc. Jpn., 40, 1–16, 1994 (in Japanese with English abstracts).

    Google Scholar 

  • Sabadini, R., G. Dalla Via, M. Hoogland, and A. Aoudia, A Splash in earth gravity from the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, EOS Trans. AGU, 86, 149, 153, 2005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, W. H. F. and D. T. Sandwell, Global sea floor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings, Science, 277, 1956–1962, 1997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sun, W. and S. Okubo, Surface potential and gravity changes due to internal dislocations in a spherical earth—II. Application to a finite fault, Geophys. J. Int., 132, 79–88, 1998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wessel, P. and W. H. F. Smith, The Generic Mapping Tools technical reference and cookbook, Version 3.3, 1999.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yutaka Hayashi.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hayashi, Y., Hirata, K., Kuragano, T. et al. Feasibility study on the potential of satellite altimetry for detecting seismic geoid changes due to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. Earth Planet Sp 59, 1149–1153 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Asperity
  • coseismic geoid change
  • Jason-1
  • satellite altimetry
  • sea surface height
  • TOPEX/Poseidon
  • 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake