Written by on . Last updated June 13th, 2024.

In the late afternoon of Thursday May 16th, 2024, a shallow and significant M5.4 foreshock hit in the Bismarck Sea 101 kilometer from Kokopo, Papua New Guinea. Around 680 thousand people have been exposed to shaking.

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Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Bismarck Sea, 39 kilometers (24 mi) off the coast of Papua New Guinea, 101 kilometer northwest of Kokopo in East New Britain. The center of this earthquake had a very shallow depth of 10 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: May 16, 2024 16:31 (Port Moresby Time)
- May 16, 2024 06:31 Universal Time.
Location: 101 km NW of Kokopo, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
Coordinates 3°49'43"S 151°31'3"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 5.4
Detected by 21 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.068 .
Depth: 10 km (6 mi)
A very shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:
V
Moderate

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 680 thousand people exposed to shaking

This earthquake may have been felt by around 680 thousand people. That is the expected population size of the area exposed to a level of shaking of II or higher on the Modified Mercalli scale according to the USGS.

The highest earthquake impact level for this earthquake is IV, which corresponds with light shaking and likely no damage. Roughly 259,900 people are expected to be exposed to this level. The majority of people (roughly 370 thousand) live in an area exposed to level III, where weak shaking and probably no damage is expected. All exposure to shaking was within the borders of Papua New Guinea .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
49,930
II
Very weak None
371,700
III
Weak Probably none
259,900
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 Papua New Guinea . Located 101 kilometer (63 mi) northwest of the epicenter of this earthquake, Kokopo (East New Britain, Papua New Guinea) is the nearest significant population center. The intensity of shaking and damage in Kokopo is estimated to be around level IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (light shaking, likely no damage).

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
101 km (63 mi)
SE from epicenter
Kokopo

East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
IV
Light
245 km (152 mi)
SW from epicenter
Kimbe

West New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
II
Weak
Cities and Towns around the epicenter of this earthquake.

Earthquake Intensity Map

The graph below overlays a map of the region around the epicenter with earthquake intensity data provided by the US Geographic Survey. The highest intensity level detected for this earthquake is IV.

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 1 person

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 1 person has reported shaking in one place in Australia.We keep updating this article as more ground reports become available. You may report that you felt this earthquake here.

Places with most reports:

  • Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, Australia: 1 person.

This is likely a foreshock

This earthquake was followed by a stronger MAG-5.7 earthquake, classifying this earthquake as a foreshock.

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Foreshock M 4.2 4 days earlier
May 14, 2024 23:25 (Port Moresby Time)
51 km (31 mi)
N from Main Shock.
Foreshock
This Earthquake
M 5.4 2 days earlier
May 16, 2024 16:31 (Port Moresby Time)
68 km (42 mi)
W from Main Shock.
Foreshock M 4.5 2 days earlier
May 16, 2024 17:49 (Port Moresby Time)
74 km (46 mi)
W from Main Shock.
Main Shock M 5.7 May 19, 2024 00:04
(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?

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 happen often in the region

Earthquakes of this strength are very common in the region. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since May 14th, 2024, when a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit 252 km (157 mi) further southwest. An even stronger magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck on December 17th, 2016.

In total, 146 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.4 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 25 days.

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 5.4. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 10 km (6 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.

Sources

Last updated 13/06/24 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 us6000mywx
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240516_0000068
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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