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

In the South Pacific Ocean 195 kilometer from Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, a strong MAG-6.6 earthquake occurred in the morning of Monday May 27th, 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 South Pacific Ocean, 123 kilometers (76 mi) off the coast of Tonga, 195 kilometer north of Nuku‘alofa in Tongatapu. The center of this earthquake had an intermediate depth of 127 km.

Date and Time: May 27, 2024 09:47AM (Tongatapu Time)
- May 26, 2024 20:47 Universal Time.
Location: 195 km north of Nuku‘alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga.
Coordinates 19°25'6"S 174°52'0"W.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 6.6
Detected by 17 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.043 .
Depth: 127 km (79 mi)
An intermediate 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. This earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6. Earthquakes of this strength could trigger a tsunami. Not this earthquake.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of 127 km (79 mi). Earthquakes this deep in the earth are unlikely to 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 110 thousand people exposed to shaking

This earthquake may have been felt by around 110 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.

Strong shaking and probably light damage may have been experienced by an estimated 9,770 people. At VI, it is the highest MMI level this earthquake has caused. Intensity level V was experienced by the majority of people (around 90 thousand). In their region, moderate shaking and very light damage can be expected. All exposure to shaking was within the borders of Tonga .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
0
II
Very weak None
0
III
Weak Probably none
12,460
IV
Light Likely none
85,310
V
Moderate Very light
9,770
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 Tonga . The closest significant population center near the earthquake is Nuku‘alofa in Tongatapu, Tonga. Nuku‘alofa is located 195 kilometer (121 mi) north of the epicenter. The intensity of shaking and damage in Nuku‘alofa 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)
195 km (121 mi)
S from epicenter
Nuku‘alofa

Tongatapu, Tonga.
V
Moderate
Cities and Towns around the epicenter of this earthquake.

Earthquake Intensity Map

The maximum intensity (MMI Scale) caused by this earthquake is VI. 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.

Shaking reported by 11 people in 2 countries

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 11 people have reported shaking in 6 places in 2 countries (Tonga, Fiji Islands).We keep updating this article as more ground reports become available. You may report that you felt this earthquake here.

Places with most reports:

  • Nukuʿalofa, Tongatapu, Tonga: 5 people.
  • Tofoa-Koloua, Tongatapu, Tonga: 2 people.
  • Ohonua, Eua, Tonga: 1 person.
  • Haveloloto, Tongatapu, Tonga: 1 person.
  • Neiafu, Vavaʿu, Tonga: 1 person.
  • Suva, Central, Fiji Islands: 1 person.

Risk of aftershocks?

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

The risk of aftershocks decreases rapidly over time. Usually, aftershocks are at least one order of magnitude lower than a main shock.

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).

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 July 2nd, 2023, when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit 171 km (106 mi) further north. An even stronger magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck on November 11th, 2022.

In total, 2 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.6 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 17/06/24 22:38 (). This article is automatically generated based on available data. We keep checking multiple sources for additional information. This article gets updated as new details on this earthquake become available.

  1. US Geographic Society (USGS): Earthquake us6000n158
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240526_0000231
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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