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No tsunami threat to Hawaii from Solomon Islands quakes

Two powerful earthquakes shook the Solomon Islands Sunday (Jan 3). A 6.5 magnitude quake struck at 11:48 a.m. HST and a 7.2 magnitude quake struck at 12:36 p.m. HST. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center released a bulletin saying there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii from either of the earthquakes but a wave in the Solomon Islands area could have been generated.

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 2303Z 03 JAN 2010

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA… WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

… TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN …

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY.

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 2237Z 03 JAN 2010
COORDINATES – 8.9 SOUTH 156.6 EAST
DEPTH – 33 KM
LOCATION – SOLOMON ISLANDS
MAGNITUDE – 7.2

EVALUATION

THIS EARTHQUAKE IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC. NO TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS TO COASTLINES IN THE PACIFIC.

HOWEVER – EARTHQUAKES OF THIS SIZE SOMETIMES GENERATE LOCAL TSUNAMIS THAT CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE ALONG COASTS LOCATED WITHIN A FEW HUNDRED KILOMETERS OF THE EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER. AUTHORITIES IN THE REGION OF THE EPICENTER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS POSSIBILITY AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION.

THIS CENTER MONITORS ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER OF SEA LEVEL GAUGES OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC SO IT MAY NOT BE ABLE TO QUICKLY DETECT OR MEASURE A TSUNAMI IF ONE WAS GENERATED. AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME THE DANGER HAS PASSED IF NO TSUNAMI WAVES ARE OBSERVED NEAR THE EPICENTER WITHIN AN HOUR OF THE EARTHQUAKE.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY MAY ALSO ISSUE TSUNAMI MESSAGES FOR THIS EVENT TO COUNTRIES IN THE NORTHWEST PACIFIC AND SOUTH CHINA SEA REGION. IN CASE OF CONFLICTING INFORMATION… THE MORE CONSERVATIVE INFORMATION SHOULD BE USED FOR SAFETY.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE PRODUCTS FOR ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…WASHINGTON…OREGON…CALIFORNIA.

click on image for larger view

Story courtesy of NASA

A strong earthquake near the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia, caused landslides and a small tsunami on January 4, 2010. Hundreds of homes and other buildings on islands close to the epicenter are reported to have been damaged, but according to BBC news reports, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported as of early Monday afternoon.

This image shows the topography (shades of brown) and bathymetry (shades of blue) in the area where the 7.2-magnitude quake occurred. Lighter colors indicate higher elevation on land and shallower depth in the water. The location of the largest quake and smaller pre- and post-quake tremors are indicated by black circles. The Solomon Islands sit at the edge of the Pacific Plate along its boundary with the Australia Plate to the southwest. The lighter blues of the Pacific Plate show that seas are shallower there than they are over the Australia Plate. The islands closest to the epicenter of the quake were Rendova and Tetepara.

The Australia plate is sliding under the Pacific Plate at about 9.5 centimeters (3.7 inches) per year in this location. As the two plates converge, they become stuck together in places. Eventually, the pressure exceeds the strength of the rocks, and brittle parts of the crust break—an earthquake. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s preliminary report, the January 4 quake was consistent with an underthrust earthquake, in which rock from the Australia Plate was abruptly shoved under the Pacific Plate.

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