7.1-magnitude earthquake hits Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake has struck the south Pacific near Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands, the US Geological Survey said on Friday, Xinhua reported.
The quake struck at a depth of 36 km at 1809 local time (0709 GMT) 60 km northeast of Isangel in Vanuatu and 324 km northeast of Tadine in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia.
There was no threat of a widespread tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. "However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along the coast within 100 km of the earthquake epicenter."
The area lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire," a zone of frequent seismic activity caused by friction between shifting tectonic plates.
As Vanuatu also sits on this volatile seismic zone, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are possible all the time.
The island nation is prone to significant seismic and volcanic activity all year round, with over 2,000 seismic events reported each year. Most of them are small scale, although larger tremors and quakes of over 5 on the Richter scale do occur on a regular basis. These events can be disorientating and disturbing.