World’s longest earthquake lasted 32 YEARS and may have killed thousands, research shows

 THE LONGEST recorded earthquake in the history of the world lasted for 32 years and may have killed thousands, according to new research.

The earthquake happened just off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and may have turned deadly in 1861.

A deadly earthquake in Indonesia in 1861 may have killed thousands of people
A deadly earthquake in Indonesia in 1861 may have killed thousands of peopleCredit: Alamy

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore identified the earthquake, which they're calling a "slow-slip event" or a "slow-earthquake".

This happens when a fault line in the Earth's crust is moving but not quick enough for a quake to be noticeable.

According to National Geographic, study author Emma Hill said: "I wouldn’t have believed that we would find a slow-slip event so long, but here we found it."

The researchers think a "slow-slip event" started off the coast of Sumatra in 1829 and slowly moved for over 30 years before ending in a big disaster.

Scientists think the longest earthquake on record could teach us how to predict future earthquakes
Scientists think the longest earthquake on record could teach us how to predict future earthquakesCredit: Getty

The scientists have published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience explaining how they spotted signs of an earthquake event that happened for decades and linked it to the large Sumatra earthquake of 1861.

The magnitude 8.5 quake caused a giant tsunami that ravaged over 300 miles of Indonesian coastline and could have killed thousands of people.

The aftershock is said to have continued for months.

Scientists identified the slow-earthquake event by studying coral along the the Sundra megathrust fault line on the sea floor near the Indonesian island of Simeulue.

Fault line movements can leave a coral imprint that shows how the ground has moved overtime.

Coral can't grow when exposed to the air so layers of dead coral can also reveal sea levels.

The corals observed for the study show a history of the fault line moving on and off between 1738 and 1861.

The scientists hope they're work will help to predict future earthquakes.

What causes earthquakes?

Here's everything you need to know...

  • An earthquake is a shockwave caused by rocks being under extreme forces
  • They are typically triggered by the movement of Earth's crust
  • Earth's tectonic plates, the massive shelves of crust that carry the continents and seafloor, meet at points called fault lines
  • When these plates rub over or against one another, huge amounts of pressure are generated
  • This creates shockwaves that send violent vibrations through Earth
  • The shock can split the planet's crust and create devastating tsunamis
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What are your thoughts on the earthquake research? Let us know in the comments...

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