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The Mail Tribune February 27, 2005

Since You Asked

Sailors spared by tsunami

We are concerned for our servicemen and women stationed on Diego Garcia, which, as you know is located in the Indian Ocean due south of the tip of India, midway between Sumatra and the east coast of Africa. The horseshoe-shaped atoll is approximately 32 miles long and only three miles wide. We haven't heard if the atoll sustained any tsunami damage. Can you advise?
- Richard and Kathryn D., Central Point.

Globalsecurity.org notes Diego Garcia was not affected by the Andaman Tsunami of Dec. 26, even though it has a maximum elevation of 22 feet and an average elevation of 4 feet.

The Diego Garcia Navy Support Facility, which houses about 1,700 military personnel and 1,500 civilian contractors, suffered no damage related to the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Favorable ocean topography minimized the tsunami's impact on the atoll. Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Archipelago, situated on the southernmost part of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. To the east lies the Chagos Trench, a 400-mile-long, underwater canyon that ranges in depth from about 3,000 feet below the surface to depths of more than 15,000 feet. It is one of the deepest regions of the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is located to the west of Chagos Trench, which runs north and south. The depth of the Chagos Trench and grade to the shores does not allow for tsunamis to build before passing the atoll. The result of the earthquake was seen as a tidal surge estimated at six feet.


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