Shallow M6.1 earthquake hits southeast of Loyalty Islands, M6.2 off Port Vila - both along New Hebrides Trench

Shallow M6.1 earthquake hits southeast of Loyalty Islands, M6.2 off Port Vila - both along New Hebrides Trench

A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.1 hit southeast of the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia at 22:49 UTC on February 17, 2021, at a depth of 12.6 km (7.8 miles). At 06:37 UTC on February 18, M6.2 earthquake hit 147 km (91.3 miles) SSW of Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The epicenter of M6.1 earthquake at 22:49 UTC on February 17 was located 439 km (273 miles) ESE of Tadine, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia.

It was preceded by M5.0 at 10:51 UTC and M5.2  at 12:59 UTC on February 17, and followed by M4.9 at 23:35 and M5.1 at 00:37 UTC on February 18.

According to the USGS, this was the 132nd moderate to very strong earthquake in this area since January 23, including M7.7 at 13:19 UTC, M6.4 at 21:23 UTC, and four M6.1 on February 10.

Shallow M6.2 earthquake off the coast of Port Vila, Vanuatu hit at 06:37 UTC on February 18, 147 km (91.3 miles) SSW of the city. This is about 140 km (87 miles) south of the area where at least 17 moderate to strong earthquakes hit since M6.2 at 00:49 UTC on February 16.

Earthquakes detected by USGS in 30 days to February 18, 2021. Credit: TW/SAM, Google

All these earthquakes took place along the New Hebrides Trench, running between the islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The trench is about 1 200 km (750 miles) long and 70 km (45 miles) wide, covering an area of about 84 000 km2 (32 400 mi2).

This zone is extremely active, producing over 20 earthquakes of M7.0 or higher in the past 25 years.

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google


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