Another major earthquake and tsunami will strike the western coast of Sumatra sometime in the next few decades, according to researchers studying the region’s history. And the predicted tsunami has a significant chance of hitting densely populated areas, the team says.

Tsunami prediction for Sumatra and the Indian Ocean region has become a priority since the devastating tsunamis of December 2004 and March 2005. In the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jose Borrero of the University of Southern California and colleagues reported on Dec. 4 a new tsunami prediction model based on past behavior of earthquakes and tsunamis in the area. “This is an important study and wakeup call for more action to do something to reduce the risk to coastal populations,” says Roland Burgmann, a geologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

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