M6.2 earthquake hit Balleny Islands region, Antarctica

M6.2 earthquake hit Balleny Islands region, Antarctica

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Earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Balleny Islands region, Antarctica on April 17, 2014 at 15:06 UTC. USGS reported depth of 17.5 km (10.9 miles). Epicenter was located 511 km (318 miles) NW of Young Island and 1999 km (1242 miles) SSW of Invercargill, New Zealand.

At 15:11 UTC an aftershock measuring M5.2 hit the same area at depth of 8.8 km (5.5 miles).

The Balleny Islands (66°55′S 163°45′E) are a series of uninhabited islands in the Southern Ocean extending from 66°15' to 67°35'S and 162°30' to 165°00'E. The group extends for about 160 km (99 mi) in a northwest-southeast direction. The islands are heavily glaciated and are of volcanic origin.

The islands were formed by the so-called Balleny hotspot. It is also the first land on Earth to have sunrise each day.The group includes three main islands: Young, Buckle and Sturge, which lie in a line from northwest to southeast, and several smaller islets and rocks.

Last 7 days, all magnitudes map. Image credit: USGS

The Buckle, Sturge and Young Islands are examples of stratovolcanoes. Strong earthquakes very close to the islands are rare, but tremors of moderate strength do occur over the Pacific–Antarctic Ridge, Macquarie Triple Junction and Pacific Rim between the Balleny Islands and Macquarie Island. 

Other earthquakes occur near the Southeast Indian Ridge and Balleny Fracture Zone, including a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in 1998 that struck just over 700 km (430 mi) west-northwest of the Islands.

Image credit: EMSC

Featured image: USGS

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