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(From China Daily)
The gigantic Asian sea quake on Sunday - the most dramatic seismic shock in more than 40 years - made the earth wobble on its axis and permanently changed the geology of the surrounding area, scientists claim.
It was like "flicking a top," said Paul Tapponnier, head of the tectonics laboratory at the Institut de Physique du Globe (IPG), France's leading centre for the earth sciences.
Tapponnier said the quake deep beneath the Pacific Ocean lasted a "colossal" 200 seconds, building up huge amounts of energy in the sea that drove towering waves onto beaches throughout south Asia.
"That earthquake has changed the map," US Geological Survey expert Ken Hudnut said in Los Angeles.
The quake, which had an epicentre magnitude of 9.0, struck 250 kilometres southeast of Sumatra island.
One of the four biggest in the last century, it sent gigantic tsunami waves crashing around the Indian Ocean causing more than 80,000 deaths so far, but the figure is rising.
Hudnut said seismic modelling suggested the quake may have moved small islands by as much as 20 metres, and the northwestern tip of the Indonesian territory of Sumatra may also have shifted to the southwest by around 36 metres.
"That is a lot of slip," he said.
The energy released as the two sides of the geological fault line deep under the sea slipped against each other would have made the Earth wobble on its axis, Hudnut said.
Tapponnier said the quake caused a 15- to 20-metre slippage of the earth's surface along a front …