Strong M6.1 earthquake hits Vanuatu region at intermediate depth


A strong earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.1 hit the Vanuatu region at 03:13 UTC on March 18, 2020. The agency is reporting a depth of 178.8 km (111 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.1 at a depth of 196 km (121 miles). This is the second M6+ earthquake after M6.0 at 16:06 UTC on March 17 in the Tonga region.

The epicenter was located 100 km (62 miles) NNW of Sola (population 1 171) and 268 km (166 miles) N of Luganville (population 13 397), Vanuatu.

There are about 4 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

12 000 people are estimated to have felt light shaking and 1 000 light.

Image credit: Google, TW/SAM

The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unknown/miscellaneous types and wood construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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