December 25th, 2010
09:13 AM ET

Tsunami warning issued after strong quake in Pacific Ocean

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean's Vanuatu Islands region early Sunday, prompting a tsunami warning for the area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck 135 kilometers (85 miles) west of the island of Tanna, Vanuatu and 1,740 kilometers (about 1,100 miles) off Australia's eastern coast just after midnight local time (8:16 a.m. ET).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a regional warning for a part of the Pacific, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours," the center said. "Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility."

The tsunami warning did not include the U.S. state of Hawaii, though some coastal areas of the islands could experience very rough seas and strong currents.

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Filed under: Weather
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. USGS

    Earthquakes are rated in terms of magnitude, or ground motion. A 7.2 magnitue earthquake produces 10 times the ground motion of an 6.2 . However, in terms of energy being released, it would take thirty-two 6.2 magnitude earthquakes to equal one 7.2 . If the scale were on a graph ranging from Zero to 100, with a six-point-two earthquake being plotted as a 6.2 on the graph, a 7.2 would be rated at 1,984.0 . The rating system is such that you do not become scared out of your minds.

    December 25, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. USGS

    Calculate the difference between a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and a 9.0 in terms of energy released, and then you will know for sure why the USGS chose a deceptive rating system that makes it apper as if the 9.0 is only 3.0 larger than a 6.0 .

    December 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    @USGS: 3. Going to a party, bye.

    December 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. USGS

    @Cesar...big deal.

    December 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eathymama

    hsd: Show me proof that earthquakes have increased 200% in the last 30 years. If so, is it a significant increase, i.e., one that varies unexpectedly from normal variation around the average? Also take into consideration that plate tectonic activity occurs on a geologic timescale, which makes 30 yrs equivalent to a very small fraction of one second out of an hour.

    December 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    @USBS: I'm inviting you. You can't prove to Eathymama that earthquakes have increased 200% anyway. There's gonna be turkey, beer, tamales, and hot female geologists, you'll like that. Your invited too, Eathymama, male anthropologists at the party.

    December 25, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eathymama

      Thanks, Cesar. I dig male anthropologists.

      December 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. USBS

    Cesar...earthymama was not addressing me. She ignored my posts. I said med-magnitude quakes have increased 50% here in the USA in the past decade. This info is on the USGS website. Read my posts again, i will await your apology.

    December 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earthymama

      USGS: I did not ignore your posts. They were interesting and a nice diversion from the God vs. Earth track.
      From the USGS site:

      EQ Magnitude (Richter) Seismic energy (joules) released Equiv. in tons TNT # of nuclear bombs
      4 0.22E+11 15 0.00
      5 0.71E+12 475 0.02
      6 0.22E+14 15,023 0.79
      7 0.71E+15 475,063 25.0
      8 0.22E+17 1,5022,833 790.6
      9 0.71E+18 47,5063,712 25,003.3

      December 25, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. USBS

    Thanks for the invite. But I do not partake in such activities, especially on a night such as this one.

    December 25, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cesar

    @USBS: Sorry

    December 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. USBS

    Say it like you mean it. he-he (it's me...phil, though the he-he gave me away.) You be careful at the party and do not drive even after just a drink or two. Call a cab or get a ride. promise me this Cesar.

    December 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    You got me! Hot dog I thought USBS was a serious geologist. I thought I was having fun with him, but that wasn't the case, was it Phil? I promise not to drink and drive. Small get together I go every year, 2 miles from home Heh, heh. Merry Christmas Phil, you awesome actor!

    December 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    Good! I was just trying to make an impression on your mind in the event you did get tipsy, you might remember because this promise would still be lingering somewhere between your synapsis and dendrites. Happy Holiday's, and are you still considering changing your s/n come Jan. first?

    December 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. phil is an anthropologist


    December 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earthymama

      Well, then.

      December 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    Here's hoping that there is no tsunami, and in that everyone heeded the warnings and got to safer ground. Amen.

    Merry Christmas, Cesar. What on Earth did GaGa DO? Never mind, don't answer that...

    Merry Christmas, phil, always a source of interesting information, even when fooling Cesar, he he! 😉

    December 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy

    Cesar, I know why you're ticked at GaGa.

    And phil, Cesar wasn't the only one you fooled. Ha.

    December 25, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
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