Monday 3 December 2018

Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake beneath the Banda Sea.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake at a depth of 141 km beneath the Banda Sea, slightly before 1.30 pm GMT on Saturday 1 December 2018. Quakes at this depth are seldom dangerous, but are often felt over a wide area, and this one was reportedly felt as far away as East Timor in the west and Darwin in the south.

The approximate location of the 1 December 2018 Banda Sea Earthquake (USGS).

The Banda Sea is underlain by two tectonic plates, the Banda Sea Plate and the Timor Plate; two small plates caught between the colliding Eurasian, Pacific and Australian Plates. The Timor Plate is being subducted beneath the Banda Sea Plate. As it sinks into the Earth the subducting plate is being melted by the heat of the planets interior; some of the melted material then rises through the overlying Banda Sea Plate, fueling volcanism on a number of islands in the region. This is not a smooth process, and the plates frequently stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up, fueling Earthquakes in the region.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.

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