Written by on . Last updated April 17th, 2024.

In the early morning of Sunday March 24th, 2024, a strong Magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit under land 81 kilometer from Wewak in Papua New Guinea. The USGS has indicated there is a potential risk at tsunami's following this earthquake. Another country near the epicenter is Indonesia.

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

Earthquake Summary

The earthquake struck on land in Papua New Guinea, 81 kilometer (50 mi) southwest of Wewak in East Sepik. The center of this earthquake had a quite shallow depth of 37 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: Mar 24, 2024 06:22 (Port Moresby Time)
- Mar 23, 2024 20:22 Universal Time.
Location: 81 km SW of Wewak, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.
Coordinates 4°6'56"S 143°10'12"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 6.9
Detected by 8 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.047 .
Depth: 37 km (23 mi)
A quite shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:
VIII
Severe

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 Not this earthquake.
This earthquake appears to have struck on land far from any coast.
This earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9. Earthquakes of this strength could trigger a tsunami. This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 37 km (23 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.

Significant impact predicted

Based on scientific estimates by the US Geographic Survey (USGS), the risk of high fatalities for this earthquake is classified at level YELLOW (significant). They expect an 50% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 fatalities, and a 99% chance that the number of fatalities falls no higher than 100.

The USGS classifies the economic impact of this earthquake at level YELLOW (significant). They expect an 50% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 million US Dollars in economic damage and impact, and a 99% chance that the economic impact of this earthquake falls no higher than 100 million USD.

Roughly 3.3 million people exposed to shaking

An estimated 3.3 million 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.

An estimated 590 people were exposed to level VIII. At this level, severe shaking and likely moderate to heavy damage can be expected. Intensity level IV was experienced by the majority of people (around 2.6 million). In their region, light shaking and likely no damage can be expected.

People in 2 countries have been exposed to shaking. Roughly 3.3 million people were exposed to shaking in Papua New Guinea , with level VIII (severe shaking, likely moderate to heavy damage) as the highest recorded. Shaking was experienced by inhabitants of Indonesia too.

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
0
II
Very weak None
94,410
III
Weak Probably none
2,583,000
IV
Light Likely none
190,200
V
Moderate Very light
232,200
VI
Strong Light
197,800
VII
Very Strong Moderate
590
VIII
Severe Moderate to heavy
0
IX
Violent Heavy
0
X
Extreme Very heavy

Nearby towns and cities

2 countries can be found within 300km of the epicenter of this earthquake: Papua New Guinea and Indonesia .

The closest significant population center near the earthquake is Wewak in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Wewak is located 81 kilometer (50 mi) southwest of the epicenter. The intensity of shaking and damage in Wewak is estimated to be around level VI on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (strong shaking, probably light damage).

The table below provides an overview of all places in proximity of today's earthquake. Where available, the estimated intensity on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale in each place is included. Places where this information is omitted likely experienced little impact.

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
81 km (50 mi)
NE from epicenter
Wewak

East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.
VI
Strong
227 km (141 mi)
SSE from epicenter
Mount Hagen

Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea.
IV
Light
232 km (144 mi)
SSE from epicenter
Mendi

Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea.
IV
Light
315 km (196 mi)
ESE from epicenter
Madang

Madang, Papua New Guinea.
324 km (201 mi)
WNW from epicenter
Jayapura

Papua, Indonesia.
328 km (204 mi)
WNW from epicenter
Abepura

Papua, Indonesia.
329 km (204 mi)
SE from epicenter
Goroka

Eastern Highlands, 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 VIII.

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 23 people

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 23 people have reported shaking in 10 places, all within 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:

  • Mount Hagen, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 6 people.
  • Tari, Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 4 people.
  • Goroka, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 3 people.
  • Ambunti, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea: 2 people.
  • Wewak, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea: 2 people.
  • Kundiawa, Simbu, Papua New Guinea: 2 people.
  • Kainantu, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.
  • Kiunga, Fly River, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.
  • Madang, Madang, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.
  • Mendi, Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.

18 Aftershocks detected

After this earthquake struck, 18 smaller aftershocks occurred. Just 7 hrs after this main shock, an earthquake measuring MAG-5.2 was detected 9 km (5 mi) north-northwest of this earthquake.

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Main Shock
This Earthquake
M 6.9 Mar 24, 2024 06:22
(Port Moresby Time)
-
Aftershock M 5.1 10 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 06:32 (Port Moresby Time)
22 km (14 mi)
NNE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.8 11 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 06:33 (Port Moresby Time)
4 km (2.3 mi)
NE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 5.0 18 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 06:40 (Port Moresby Time)
21 km (13 mi)
E from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.4 29 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 06:51 (Port Moresby Time)
12 km (7 mi)
WSW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.3 34 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 06:56 (Port Moresby Time)
21 km (13 mi)
N from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.2 55 mins later
Mar 24, 2024 07:16 (Port Moresby Time)
21 km (13 mi)
WNW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.1 1 hr later
Mar 24, 2024 07:46 (Port Moresby Time)
10 km (6 mi)
SSW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.2 2 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 07:52 (Port Moresby Time)
21 km (13 mi)
NW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.2 2 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 08:27 (Port Moresby Time)
2.4 km (1.5 mi)
ENE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.2 2 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 08:31 (Port Moresby Time)
7 km (4 mi)
WSW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 5.2 2 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 08:49 (Port Moresby Time)
7 km (4 mi)
NW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 5.2 2 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 08:50 (Port Moresby Time)
12 km (8 mi)
WSW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.6 4 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 10:17 (Port Moresby Time)
33 km (20 mi)
NW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 5.2 7 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 13:26 (Port Moresby Time)
9 km (5 mi)
NNW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.3 11 hrs later
Mar 24, 2024 17:28 (Port Moresby Time)
8 km (5 mi)
N from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.1 1 day later
Mar 25, 2024 08:16 (Port Moresby Time)
6 km (4 mi)
SE from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.4 2 days later
Mar 26, 2024 16:35 (Port Moresby Time)
28 km (17 mi)
NW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 4.5 3 days later
Mar 26, 2024 20:15 (Port Moresby Time)
32 km (20 mi)
W 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?

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.

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).

This is an unusually powerful earthquake

Earthquakes of this strength are not so common in the region, but it's not the first time. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since April 2nd, 2023, when a 7 magnitude earthquake hit 23 km (14 mi) further south. An even stronger magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on February 25th, 2018.

In total, 2 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.9 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 5 years.

Sources

Last updated 17/04/24 03:58 (). 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 us6000mksx
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240323_0000230
  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