Quake hits near Tonga, Fiji

A large earthquake in Tonga this morning did more than wake up the Pacific Island nation, it also woke up GeoNet’s earthquake monitoring systems based in New Zealand, prompting alerts of significant quake activity here too.

 The US Geological Survey (USGS) says the 7.5-magnitude quake hit at 6:19am Tongan time (5:19am New Zealand time). It was 287km southwest of Nuku’alofa, Tonga and 712km southeast of Fiji, and at a depth of 170km.

 No injuries have been reported in Tonga following the quake, and no tsunami warning was triggered.

 But alerts were sent out via email and smart phone apps of two quakes above magnitude 5.0 in the Tologa Bay region, (add comma) which turned out to be false.

 “Apologies large Fiji EQ caused two false events on our system these have been deleted, [sic]” GeoNet tweeted.

GeoNet seismologist Dr Martin Rayner told National Radio this morning that the GeoNet rapid system had picked up on activity from the Tonga quake and automatically recorded them as being from within New Zealand.

Dr Rayner said initial rapid reports are always preliminary and these two quakes have since been deleted from the GeoNet website.

If anyone had felt the quake in Tologa Bay it would have been more of a gentle rocking rather than shaking.

USGS says the quake “occurred as a result of normal faulting” and there have been frequent earthquakes in the area where it happened before, none of which “are known to have caused significant damage”.


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