Due to a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Papua New Guinea on Monday March 30, there is now a risk of tsunami waves in areas close to the epicenter. According to U.S. seismologists, no severe damage had been immediately reported.
The earthquake took place at a depth of 33 kilometers (20 miles), about 55 kilometers from the nearby city of Kokopo, situated on the New Britain island and 787 kilometers from Port Moresby.
Kokopo is the capital of East New Britain, a city with a population of approximately 20,000. Its development intensified after the neighboring town of Rabaul was severely damaged by volcanic eruptions in 1994.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre stated that as a result of the earthquake “hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts”. It was initially expected the risk of tsunami waves would be limited to Papua New Guinea, with waves of a magnitude ranging from one to three meters. However, a few less intense waves, with a magnitude of less than 30 centimeters above the normal tide level, will hit coasts in the Pacific such as “Australia, Japan, Philippines, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu”.
The first earthquake was followed by a 5.7-magnitude aftershock which struck in the same area. Seismologist Jonathan Bathgate from Geoscience Australia explained that the possibility of a local tsunami was quite high but due to the quake’s low intensity, it was expected the waves to be just as weak. But “it would have been quite widely felt, certainly within 100 kilometers”.
He added that the damage would probably be small, although “people would have felt strong shaking”.
In Papua New Guinea, earthquakes are a common phenomenon as the country is situated right on the so-called Pacific Ring Of Fire, an area with intense seismic activity due to “friction between tectonic plates”.
The latest seismic event occurred near the country’s pacific coast when a 6.8-magnitude quake struck the island of Bougainville in December 2014.
Two years ago, the nearby Solomon Islands were hit by a powerful tsunami, the result of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake. At least 10 people lost their lives when the seismic wave hit, destroying hundreds of homes and leaving thousands of people without a place to live.
Image Source: The Guardian