M8.0 Earthquake and Tsunami in Solomon Islands, West Pacific: 6 February 2013

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Seismic History and Major Earthquakes in the Solomon Islands

Damage caused by the 2007 earthquake and tsunami. Image credit: US Navy

Damage caused by the 2007 8.1M earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands. Image credit: US Navy

Given the complex nature of the plate margin at this point, it is no surprise to learn that major earthquakes are a regular occurrence in the region.

In the relatively recent past the Solomon Islands have experienced several major earthquakes, including an M8.1 in April 2007 and an M7.1 in January 2010, along with pairs of large earthquakes occurring within hours or days of each other in 1971 (both M7.6), 1974 (M7.0 and M7.1) and in 1975 (M7.9 and M7.7).

Santa Cruz Islands Earthquake and Tsunami

Given the oceanic setting of the plate margin and the scale of the earthquakes which occur in the region of the Santa Cruz Islands, within the Solomon Islands, tsunamis are not uncommon. The 2007 tremor generated a tsunami of up to 5m which claimed 52 lives, a figure which could have been greater had it not occurred during the day, allowing local residents time to escape, while the 1.5m wave which followed the 2010 tremor caused extensive damage but no deaths.

Sources

CNN. 5 dead after powerful quake strikes in South Pacific. (2013). Accessed February 6, 2013.

USGS. Real time earthquake map. (2013). Accessed February 6, 2013.

USGS. M8.0 – Santa Cruz Islands(2013). Accessed February 6, 2013.

Yeats, R. Active Faults of the World. Cambridge University Press. (2012).

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