Written by on . Last updated July 18th, 2024.

A shallow and strong M6.3 earthquake struck in the Coral Sea 83 kilometer from Port-Vila, Vanuatu in the morning of Sunday May 26th, 2024. The USGS has indicated there is a potential risk at tsunami's following this earthquake.

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Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Coral Sea, 48 kilometers (30 mi) off the coast of Vanuatu, 83 kilometer northwest of Port-Vila in Shefa. The center of this earthquake had a very shallow depth of 22 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: May 26, 2024 09:23AM (Efate Time)
- May 25, 2024 22:23 Universal Time.
Location: 83 km NW of Port-Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu.
Coordinates 17°6'56"S 167°52'31"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 6.3
Detected by 23 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.039 .
Depth: 22 km (14 mi)
A very 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 22 km (14 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 250 thousand people exposed to shaking

This earthquake may have been felt by around 250 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 VI, which corresponds with strong shaking and probably light damage. Roughly 470 people are expected to be exposed to this level. Intensity level IV was experienced by the majority of people (around 210 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
9,470
III
Weak Probably none
213,200
IV
Light Likely none
28,400
V
Moderate Very light
470
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 83 kilometer (52 mi) northwest of Port-Vila. The intensity of shaking and damage in Port-Vila 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)
83 km (52 mi)
SE from epicenter
Port-Vila

Shefa, Vanuatu.
IV
Light
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 VI.

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 16 people

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 16 people have reported shaking in 2 places in 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: 15 people.
  • Luganville, Sanma, Vanuatu: 1 person.

Aftershocks detected

In the days before this main shock, 1 smaller foreshock was detected. Nearby this earthquake a foreshock struck 2 days earlier. It measured a magnitude of 4.1

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Foreshock M 4.1 2 days earlier
May 24, 2024 04:38AM (Efate Time)
84 km (52 mi)
SE from Main Shock.
Main Shock M 4.4 May 26, 2024 02:25PM
(Efate 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 January 23rd, 2024, when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 98 km (61 mi) further south. An even stronger magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck on October 20th, 2015.

In total, 19 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 6 months.

Sources

Last updated 18/07/24 05:48 (). 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 us6000n102
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240525_0000238
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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