Written by on . Last updated March 3rd, 2024.

A strong M6.3 earthquake struck in the Coral Sea 39 kilometer from Port-Vila, Vanuatu in the night of Wednesday January 24th, 2024. The USGS has indicated there is a potential risk at tsunami's following this earthquake.

Felt the earthquake? Share this article: Share on Facebook Tweet Submit to Reddit Share on LinkedIn

Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Coral Sea, 29 kilometers (18 mi) off the coast of Vanuatu, 39 kilometer southwest of Port-Vila in Shefa. The center of this earthquake had a quite shallow depth of 31 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: Jan 24, 2024 01:33AM (Efate Time)
- Jan 23, 2024 14:33 Universal Time.
Location: 39 km SW of Port-Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu.
Coordinates 17°58'58"S 168°2'60"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 6.3
Detected by 11 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.052 .
Depth: 31 km (19 mi)
A quite shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:
VI
Strong

On the Modified Mercalli Scale.
Tsunami Risk: Potential tsunami risk
The USGS has indicated there is a potential risk at tsunami's following this earthquake.
Always stay cautious - More info here.

Potential 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.

There is a potential tsunami risk in the aftermath of this earthquake, immediately evacuate to higher grounds away from coastal areas and monitor advice from local authorities. The US Geographic Survey organization has indicated a potential risk for tsunami's following this earthquake.

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 6.3. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 31 km (19 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.

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 190 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 190 thousand have been exposed to shaking at an MMI level of II or higher.

Moderate shaking and very light damage may have been experienced by an estimated 62,770 people. At V, it is the highest MMI level this earthquake has caused. Intensity level IV was experienced by of people (around 70 thousand). In their region, light shaking and likely no damage can be expected. All exposure to shaking was within the borders of Vanuatu .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
0
II
Very weak None
61,090
III
Weak Probably none
66,910
IV
Light Likely none
62,770
V
Moderate Very light
0
VI
Strong Light
0
VII
Very Strong Moderate
0
VIII
Severe Moderate to heavy
0
IX
Violent Heavy
0
X
Extreme Very heavy

Nearby towns and cities

This earthquake may have been felt in Vanuatu . Located 39 kilometer (24 mi) southwest of the epicenter of this earthquake, Port-Vila (Shefa, Vanuatu) is the nearest significant population center. The intensity of shaking and damage in Port-Vila is estimated to be around level V on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (moderate shaking, very light damage).

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
39 km (24 mi)
NE from epicenter
Port-Vila

Shefa, Vanuatu.
V
Moderate
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 91 people

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 91 people have reported shaking in 3 places, all within Vanuatu.We keep updating this article as more ground reports become available. You may report that you felt this earthquake here.

Places with most reports:

  • Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu: 89 people.
  • Luganville, Sanma, Vanuatu: 1 person.
  • Sola, Torba, Vanuatu: 1 person.

3 Aftershocks detected

Since this main shock, 3 smaller aftershocks were detected. At a distance of 17 km (10 mi) east-northeast of this earthquake, an aftershock struck 53 mins later. It measured a magnitude of 5.1

In the days before this main shock, 1 smaller foreshock was detected. A 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit 8 hrs earlier nearby.

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Foreshock M 4.4 8 hrs earlier
Jan 23, 2024 05:15PM (Efate Time)
72 km (45 mi)
ENE from Main Shock.
Main Shock
This Earthquake
M 6.3 Jan 24, 2024 01:33AM
(Efate Time)
-
Aftershock M 5.1 53 mins later
Jan 24, 2024 02:26AM (Efate Time)
17 km (10 mi)
ENE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.4 3 hrs later
Jan 24, 2024 04:36AM (Efate Time)
9 km (6 mi)
SSE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.7 4 hrs later
Jan 24, 2024 05:54AM (Efate Time)
9 km (6 mi)
SE from Main Shock.
Detected MAG2.5+ earthquakes within within 100km (62 mi), that occurred in the three days before and after the main shock.

More earthquakes coming?

Earthquakes can create aftershocks. These are generally at least 1 magnitude lower than any main shock, and as time passes the chance and strength of aftershocks decreases.

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 are common in the region

Earthquakes of this strength occur quite regularly in the region. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since April 9th, 2022, when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 224 km (139 mi) further northwest. An even stronger magnitude 7 earthquake struck on April 28th, 2016.

In total, 12 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.3 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 10 months.

Sources

Last updated 03/03/24 02:18 (). As more information on this earthquake becomes available this article will be updated. This article is automatically composed based on data originating from multiple sources.

  1. US Geographic Society (USGS): Earthquake us7000lt73
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240123_0000195
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

Share this article: Share on Facebook Tweet Submit to Reddit Share on LinkedIn