Written by on . Last updated November 28th, 2023.

In the evening of Tuesday November 14th, 2023, a significant M5.9 earthquake hit in the Solomon Sea 151 kilometer from Lae, Papua New Guinea. Roughly 690 thousand people may have felt this earthquake.

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Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Solomon Sea, 31 kilometers (19 mi) off the coast of Papua New Guinea, 151 kilometer east-northeast of Lae in Morobe. The center of this earthquake had a quite shallow depth of 58 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: Nov 14, 2023 22:52 (Port Moresby Time)
- Nov 14, 2023 12:52 Universal Time.
Location: 151 km ENE of Lae, Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
Coordinates 6°3'46"S 148°11'7"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 5.9
Detected by 34 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.053 .
Depth: 58 km (36 mi)
A quite shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:

On the Modified Mercalli Scale.
Tsunami Risk: Low tsunami risk
Earthquakes under MAG-6.5 do not usually cause tsunami's.
Always stay cautious - More info here.

Minimal impact predicted

Based on scientific estimates by the US Geographic Survey (USGS), the risk of high fatalities for this earthquake is classified at level GREEN (low). They expect an 65% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 fatalities, and a 96% chance that the number of fatalities falls no higher than 10.

The USGS classifies the economic impact of this earthquake at level GREEN (low). They expect an 65% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 million US Dollars in economic damage and impact, and a 96% chance that the economic impact of this earthquake falls no higher than 10 million USD.

Roughly 690 thousand people exposed to shaking

The USGS has published a report estimating the number of people exposed to this earthquake. Acoording to their analysis, roughly 690 thousand have been exposed to shaking at an MMI level of II or higher.

The highest earthquake impact level for this earthquake is V, which corresponds with moderate shaking and very light damage. Roughly 7,800 people are expected to be exposed to this level. The majority of people (roughly 410 thousand) live in an area exposed to level IV, where light shaking and likely no damage is expected. All exposure to shaking was within the borders of Papua New Guinea .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
Not noticable None
Very weak None
Weak Probably none
Light Likely none
Moderate Very light
Strong Light
Very Strong Moderate
Severe Moderate to heavy
Violent Heavy
Extreme Very heavy

Nearby towns and cities

This earthquake may have been felt in Papua New Guinea . Lae in Morobe, Papua New Guinea is the nearest significant place from the epicenter. The earthquake occurred 151 kilometer (94 mi) east-northeast of Lae. Lae experienced an earthquake intensity (MMI Scale) of roughly IV. That level implies light shaking and likely no damage.

A complete list of nearby places is included below. Estimated intensity data (MMI) sourced from a shake-map published by the US Geographic Survey is shown where available (cities without data probably experienced little impact).

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
151 km (94 mi)
WSW from epicenter

Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
213 km (132 mi)
SW from epicenter

Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
223 km (139 mi)
ENE from epicenter

West New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
281 km (175 mi)
WNW from epicenter

Madang, Papua New Guinea.
301 km (187 mi)
S from epicenter

Northern Province, Papua New Guinea.
309 km (192 mi)
W from epicenter

Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea.
396 km (246 mi)
SSW from epicenter
Port Moresby

National Capital, Papua New Guinea.
Cities and Towns around the epicenter of this earthquake.

Earthquake Intensity Map

The intensity in shaking and damage by this earthquake is illustrated through the map below. The highest intensity measured for this earthquake is V.

I Not felt
II Weak
III Weak
IV Light
V Moderate
VI Strong
VII Very Strong
VIII Severe
IX Violent
X Extreme
Earthquake Intensity Map based on Shakemap Data provided by USGS.

Shaking reported by 3 people

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 3 people have reported shaking in 2 places in Papua New Guinea.We keep updating this article as more ground reports become available. You may report that you felt this earthquake here.

Places with most reports:

  • Kimbe, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea: 2 people.
  • Lae, Morobe, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.

Aftershocks detected

In the days before this main shock, 1 smaller foreshock was detected. A 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit 18 hrs earlier nearby.

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Foreshock M 4.6 18 hrs earlier
Nov 14, 2023 04:34 (Port Moresby Time)
99 km (61 mi)
WSW from Main Shock.
Main Shock
This Earthquake
M 5.9 Nov 14, 2023 22:52
(Port Moresby Time)
Detected MAG2.5+ earthquakes within within 100km (62 mi), that occurred in the three days before and after the main shock.

More earthquakes coming?

Aftershocks are usually at least 1 order of magnitude less strong than main shocks. The more time passes, the smaller the chance and likely strength of any potential aftershocks.

In only six percent of cases, significant earthquakes are followed by a larger main shock, making the current earthquake a foreshock. While the chance of this happening is not so large, it is adviced to maintain cautiousness in the hours and days following a major earthquake.

Read: How to Stay Safe during an Earthquake (cdc.gov).

Earthquakes like this happen often in the region

Earthquakes of this strength are very common in the region. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since October 7th, 2023, when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit 238 km (148 mi) further west-northwest. An even stronger magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck on September 10th, 2022.

In total, 32 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.9 or higher have been registered within 300km (186 mi) of this epicenter in the past 10 years. This comes down to an average of once every 4 months.

Low tsunami risk

DISCLAIMER: We strongly suggest to closely monitor advice from local authorities with regards to tsunami risks. Our analysis is based on automatically collected data from external sources, and these might contain mistakes. In addition, earthquakes can cause landslides that may lead to a tsunami, or be a followed by another, potentially stonger, earthquake.

Based on early data it appears this earthquake was not strong enough (lower than MAG-6.5) to be likely to cause destructive tsunami's. However this earthquake appeared to have hit at a shallow depth under sea, so stay cautious and monitor advice from local authorities.

Tsunami Risk Factors

Factor Under Sea? MAG-6.5 or stronger? Shallow depth?
Explanation Almost all tsunami's are caused by earthquakes with their epicenter under sea or very near the sea. However stay cautious in coastal areas as earthquakes on land may cause landslides into sea, potentially still causing a local tsunami. Under MAG 6.5: Very unlikely to cause a tsunami.
MAG 6.5 to 7.5: Destructive tsunami's do occur, but are uncommon. Likely to observe small sea level changes.
MAG 7.6+: Earthquakes with these magnitudes might produce destructive tsunami's.
Most destructive tsunami's are caused by shallow earthquakes with a depth between 0 and 100km under the surface of the earth. Deeper tsunami's are unlikely to displace to ocean floor.
This Earthquake This earthquake appears to have struck under the sea. Not this earthquake.
This earthquake had a magnitude of 5.9. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 58 km (36 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.


Last updated 28/11/23 01:18 (). This article contains currently available information about the earthquake and is automatically composed. We continue to update this article up to a few days after the earthquake occurred.

  1. US Geographic Society (USGS): Earthquake usd00103z8
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20231114_0000108
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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