The south Pacific experienced a 7.7 magnitude earthquake on Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This seismic activity took place in a region southwest of Fiji, north of New Zealand, and east of Australia, where the Pacific and Coral Sea meet. Tsunami warnings were initially issued for the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu but they were later lifted.
More specifically, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a warning for potential tsunamis with destructive waves of up to one meter in height, but this warning was later canceled. The National Disaster Management Office of Vanuatu issued a tsunami advisory, urging residents to move to higher ground. Videos posted by Agence France-Presse showed residents in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, monitoring the situation from a hillside.
Certain areas of Vanuatu reported waves slightly higher than the normal tide level, reaching around half a meter. The USGS stated in its report that the earthquake was caused by faulting near the boundary between the Australia and Pacific plates. It further explained that earthquakes of this magnitude are more accurately described as slip occurring over a larger fault area.
The earthquake occurred at 02:57 Universal Time, approximately 334 kilometers east of Vao in New Caledonia or 436 kilometers southwest of Vanuatu. Another significant quake with a magnitude of 5.9 was recorded in the same area about 10 minutes later.
This region falls within the "Ring of Fire," a circular path encompassing the Pacific Ocean that contains numerous seismic faults and is known for being the location of most of the world's earthquakes.