A powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake has struck off the coast of New Caledonia in the Loyalty Islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre immediately issued a warning that hazardous tsunami waves could possibly affect locations up to 1000km away — including New Caledonia and Vanuatu – and that tsunmai waves had been observed.
The PTWC said tsunami waves of between 1 and 3 meters were possible, while waves of up to 1 meter were possible in Fiji.
The warning center said there was no threat to Hawaii.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck about 168 kilometers east of Tadine in New Caledonia at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers. Earthquakes are generally more destructive when the epicenter is near the surface.
The quake, which struck about 3.30pm AEDT, appears to have been shallow — at just 10km beneath the Earth’s surface. But an automated assessment of the threat posed by the quake, generated by the US Geological Service, places the prospect of economic loss and fatality as very low.
There were no immediate reports of damage from the quake.
A spokesman for French mining and metals group Eramet , which operates the Doniambo nickel plant in the main harbour of Noumea, said it had enacted its tsunami alert process.
“The procedure is to ask people who work near the sea to move higher up,” he said, adding that he had felt the quake, describing it a strong but not long- lasting shaking.
New Caledonia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.
Original article appeared in new.com.au