At 9.05 am on Sunday 15 April 2012, local time (10.05 pm on Saturday 14 April, GMT) the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu was shaken by an Earthquake about 30 km to the west of Tanna Island. This was recorded by the United States Geological Survey as measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale, and occurring at a depth of 8.7 km. There are no reports of any casualties or serious damage at this time, but there is a distinct possibility that unreported casualties may yet come to light. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center have not issued a warning for this quake.
Map showing the location of the quake and the areas where the effects were most strongly felt. USGS.
Vanuatu lies on the boundary between the Pacific and Australian Plates, to the east of the New Hebrides (or Vanuatu) Trench, where the Australian Plate is being subducted beneath the Pacific. As it does so it passes underneath the islands of Vanuatu, where friction between the two plates can cause Earthquakes. As the Australian Plate sinks further it is melted by the heat of the Earth's interior, and some of the melted material rises through the overlying Pacific Plate, fueling the volcanoes of Vanuatu.
See also Earthquake shakes New Britain, Possible eruption on Tinakula, Ash cloud reported over Karkar Island, north of Papua New Guinea, Series of Earthquakes shakes Vanuatu and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.
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