Written by on . Last updated June 12th, 2024.

A shallow and significant Magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean 350 kilometer from Medan, Indonesia in the evening of Tuesday May 28th, 2024. Roughly 1.4 million people may have felt this earthquake.

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Earthquake Summary

This earthquake hit under water in the Indian Ocean, right off the coast of Indonesia (6 mi offshore), 350 kilometer west-southwest of Medan in North Sumatra. The center of this earthquake had a very shallow depth of 18 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: May 28, 2024 18:52 (Jakarta Time)
- May 28, 2024 11:52 Universal Time.
Location: 350 km WSW of Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Coordinates 2°49'52"N 95°36'16"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 5.9
Detected by 16 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.078 .
Depth: 18 km (11 mi)
A very shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:
VI
Strong

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 1.4 million people exposed to shaking

An estimated 1.4 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.

The highest earthquake impact level for this earthquake is VI, which corresponds with strong shaking and probably light damage. Roughly 9,530 people are expected to be exposed to this level. The majority of people (roughly 1.2 million) 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 Indonesia .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
0
I
Not noticable None
200
II
Very weak None
1,156,000
III
Weak Probably none
189,500
IV
Light Likely none
38,430
V
Moderate Very light
9,530
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 Indonesia . The closest significant population center near the earthquake is Meulaboh in Aceh, Indonesia. Meulaboh is located 157 kilometer (98 mi) south-southwest of the epicenter. The intensity of shaking and damage in Meulaboh is estimated to be around level IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (light shaking, likely no damage).

Major cities near this earthquake: Medan is located 350 km to the east-northeast (intensity unknown, possibly low). Percut is located 372 km to the east-northeast (intensity unknown, possibly low). Banda Aceh is located 303 km to the north (intensity unknown, possibly low).

An overview of nearby towns and cities is available in the overview below. If places don't have intensity data available, it likely means the experienced impact in those places was fairly small.

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
157 km (98 mi)
NNE from epicenter
Meulaboh

Aceh, Indonesia.
IV
Light
250 km (155 mi)
ESE from epicenter
Singkil

Aceh, Indonesia.
276 km (171 mi)
NNE from epicenter
Reuleuet

Aceh, Indonesia.
287 km (178 mi)
N from epicenter
Sigli

Aceh, Indonesia.
290 km (180 mi)
NNE from epicenter
Bireun

Aceh, Indonesia.
303 km (188 mi)
N from epicenter
Banda Aceh

Aceh, Indonesia.
312 km (194 mi)
NNE from epicenter
Lhokseumawe

Aceh, Indonesia.
319 km (198 mi)
NE from epicenter
Langsa

Aceh, Indonesia.
322 km (200 mi)
E from epicenter
Kabanjahe

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
324 km (201 mi)
E from epicenter
Tongging

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
325 km (202 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Pangkalan Brandan

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
325 km (202 mi)
E from epicenter
Berastagi

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
331 km (206 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Stabat

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
331 km (206 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Binjai

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
336 km (209 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Tanjungtiram

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
342 km (213 mi)
N from epicenter
Sabang

Aceh, Indonesia.
344 km (214 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Sunggal

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
350 km (217 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Deli Tua

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
350 km (217 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Medan

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
355 km (221 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Labuhan Deli

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
358 km (222 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Belawan

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
372 km (231 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Percut

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
373 km (232 mi)
ESE from epicenter
Sibolga

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
381 km (237 mi)
ENE from epicenter
Perbaungan

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
385 km (239 mi)
E from epicenter
Pematangsiantar

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
398 km (247 mi)
E from epicenter
Pekan Bahapal

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
399 km (248 mi)
E from epicenter
Tebingtinggi

North Sumatra, Indonesia.
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.

Aftershocks detected

After this earthquake struck, 1 smaller aftershock occurred. Just 1 day after this main shock, an earthquake measuring MAG-4.6 was detected 12 km (8 mi) south of this earthquake.

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Main Shock
This Earthquake
M 5.9 May 28, 2024 18:52
(Jakarta Time)
-
Aftershock M 4.6 1 day later
May 29, 2024 23:54 (Jakarta Time)
12 km (8 mi)
S 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?

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

The chance that a significant earthquake like this one is followed by an even larger earthquake is not so large. On average, scientists estimate a 94% chance that a major earthquake will not be followed by an even larger one. It is still adviced to be aware of this risk

Read: How to Stay Safe during an Earthquake (cdc.gov).

Earthquakes like this are common in the region

Earthquakes of this strength occur quite regularly in the region. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since January 15th, 2023, when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit 282 km (175 mi) further east-southeast. An even stronger magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck on December 6th, 2016.

In total, 5 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.9 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 2 years.

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 5.9. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 18 km (11 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.

Sources

Last updated 12/06/24 13:48 (). 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 us6000n1gi
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240528_0000107
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

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