List of earthquakes in Vanuatu

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Earthquakes in Vanuatu are frequent and are sometimes accompanied by tsunami, though these events are not often destructive. The archipelago, which was formerly known as New Hebrides, lies atop a complex and active plate boundary in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

Tectonic setting[edit]

The primary tectonic feature of the 1,200 km (750 mi) island chain is the New Hebrides Subduction Zone, the convergent boundary of the Australian and Pacific Plates. Along the Wadati–Benioff zone, earthquake activity has been observed as shallow, intermediate, and deep-focus events at depths of up to 700 km (430 mi). Volcanic activity is also present along this north-northwest trending and northeast-dipping oceanic trench.[1]

While much of the island arc experiences intermediate-depth earthquakes along a Wadati–Benioff zone that dips steeply at 70°, the area adjacent to the d'Entrecasteaux Ridge does not. There is a corresponding gap in seismicity that occurs below 50 km (31 mi) where it intrudes into the subduction zone from the west. According to the NUVEL-1 global relative plate motion model, convergence is occurring at roughly 8 cm (3.1 in) per year. The uncertainty, which also affects the Tonga arc, is due to the influence of spreading at the North Fiji basin. Of the 58 M7 or greater events that occurred between 1909 and 2001, few were studied.[2]


Date Region Mag. MMI Deaths Injuries Comments
2009-06-03 6.3 Mw 4 Landslides [3]
2009-05-29 5.7 Mw 10 Landslides / damage [4]
2002-11-28 5.9 Mw 3 Landslides / damage [5]
2002-01-03 7.2 Mw Several Rockslides / damage [6]
1999-11-26 Ambrym 7.4 Mw VII 5–10 40–100 Landslides / damage / five killed by tsunami
1997-04-21 Santa Cruz Islands 7.7 Mw Some damage / tsunami [7]
1990-07-27 Espiritu Santo 6.4 mb V 2 Moderate damage NGDC
1973-12-29 7.2 Ms VIII Moderate damage NGDC
1973-12-29 7.5 Ms VII Moderate damage NGDC
1971-10-28 7.1 Ms VII 1 Some Severe damage NGDC
1965-08-11 7.6 Mw Moderate damage / tsunami NGDC
1910-11-10 Moderate damage / tsunami NGDC
1909-07-08 Moderate damage / tsunami NGDC
Note: The inclusion criteria for adding events are based on WikiProject Earthquakes' notability guideline that was developed for stand alone articles. The principles described also apply to lists. In summary, only damaging, injurious, or deadly events should be recorded.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yeats, R. (2012), Active Faults of the World, Cambridge University Press, p. 478, ISBN 978-0521190855
  2. ^ Frolich, C. (2006). Deep Earthquakes. Cambridge University Press. pp. 399–401. ISBN 978-0805836523.
  3. ^ USGS. "M6.3 - Vanuatu". United States Geological Survey.
  4. ^ USGS. "M5.7 - Vanuatu". United States Geological Survey.
  5. ^ USGS. "M5.9 - Vanuatu". United States Geological Survey.
  6. ^ USGS. "M7.2 - Vanuatu". United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^ USGS. "M7.7 - Santa Cruz Islands". United States Geological Survey.


External links[edit]