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

In the late afternoon of Monday February 12th, 2024, a significant Magnitude 5.0 earthquake hit in the Coral Sea 197 kilometer from Port-Vila, Vanuatu. Roughly 150 thousand people may have felt this earthquake.

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Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Coral Sea, right off the coast of Vanuatu (8 mi offshore), 197 kilometer south-southeast of Port-Vila in Shefa. The center of this earthquake had an intermediate depth of 135 km.

Date and Time: Feb 12, 2024 05:10PM (Efate Time)
- Feb 12, 2024 06:10 Universal Time.
Location: 197 km SSE of Port-Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu.
Coordinates 19°20'24"S 169°6'35"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 5.0
Detected by 16 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.078 .
Depth: 135 km (84 mi)
An intermediate depth.
Max. Intensity:
IV
Light

On the Modified Mercalli Scale.
Tsunami Risk: Tsunami very unlikely
Earthquakes under MAG-6.5 at depths deeper than 100km are very unlikely to 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 150 thousand people exposed to shaking

An estimated 150 thousand have been exposed to shaking (An MMI or Modified Mercalli Intensity level II or higher) as a result of this earthquake according scientific estimates published by the USGS.

The highest earthquake impact level for this earthquake is IV, which corresponds with light shaking and likely no damage. Roughly 24,260 people are expected to be exposed to this level. Intensity level III was experienced by the majority of people (around 120 thousand). In their region, weak shaking and probably no damage can be expected.

People in 2 countries have been exposed to shaking. In Vanuatu , around 140 thousand people, with impact levels up to IV (light shaking, likely no damage). In New Caledonia , around 10 thousand people.

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
0
II
Very weak None
121,000
III
Weak Probably none
24,260
IV
Light Likely none
0
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 . Port-Vila in Shefa, Vanuatu is the nearest significant place from the epicenter. The earthquake occurred 197 kilometer (122 mi) south-southeast of Port-Vila. Port-Vila experienced an earthquake intensity (MMI Scale) of roughly III. That level implies weak shaking and probably no damage.

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
197 km (122 mi)
NNW from epicenter
Port-Vila

Shefa, Vanuatu.
III
Weak
Cities and Towns around the epicenter of this earthquake.

Earthquake Intensity Map

The maximum intensity (MMI Scale) caused by this earthquake is IV. The map below shows in which areas this earthquake was the most and least impactful. It is based on data from the US Geographic Survey.

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.

Risk of aftershocks?

This earthquake did not have any significant foreshocks nor aftershocks occurring within 100km (62 mi) of its epicenter.

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.

It's always adviced to be cautious of the risk of a larger shock following any significant earthquake, however this risk is fairly small. There is a roughly 94 percent change that no larger main shock will follow in the days following this 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 January 23rd, 2024, when a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit 184 km (114 mi) further north-northwest. An even stronger magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on December 5th, 2018.

In total, 380 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 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 days.

Tsunami very unlikely

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.

For a serious tsunami to occur, earthquakes usually need to have a magnitude of at least 6.5 and occur at a shallow depth of maximum 100km. Neither are the case with this earthquake. However always 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. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
Not this earthquake.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of 135 km (84 mi). Earthquakes this deep in the earth are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.

Sources

Last updated 03/03/24 08:18 (). 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 us7000lyjy
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240212_0000080
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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