Another in a Series of Major Earthquakes Strikes Papua New Guinea

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Seismic History of Papua New Guinea

The tectonic setting of Papua New Guinea is highly complex (USGS)

The tectonic setting of Papua New Guinea is highly complex. Image by USGS

Given the tectonic setting and the close proximity of all three types of plate boundary (constructive, destructive and conservative) it comes as no surprise that Papua New Guinea is highly volatile in seismic terms. The earthquake of December 2011 was only the latest in a long series of such events.

Historical earthquake data published by the USGS for the region show that Papua New Guinea itself has experienced no fewer than 19 seismic events of M6 or greater in less than fourteen years. Seven of these, all occurring between 1998 and 2002, were of M7 or more, including one of M8.0. Remarkably, apart from a submarine earthquake in 1998 which generated a tsunami and killed over 2,000 people, only six lives have been reported lost.

Sources
BBC news online. Papua New Guinea hit by magnitude 7.1 earthquake. Accessed December 14, 2011.

Oregon State University. Tectonic Setting and Volcanoes of Papua New Guinea, New Britain, and the Solomon Islands. Accessed December 14, 2011.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. Magnitude 7.1 – Eastern New Guinea Reg, Papua New GuineaAccessed December 14, 2011.

USGS Papua. New Guinea Earthquake Information. Accessed December 14, 2011.

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