Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake Strikes Solomon Islands: Tsunami Warning Issued For Hawaii [Updated]

Ross SetfordAP Images

Update: The initial tsunami warnings issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center were later cancelled. The threat of the tsunami has now passed.

Just hours after we reported about a magnitude 6.5 earthquake off the California coast, we now have reports of a larger, magnitude 8.0 earthquake near the Solomon Islands. Minutes after the earthquake struck, its intensity was lowered to still strong magnitude 7.7 temblor.

Unlike the smaller earthquake that was recorded off the California coast, there are chances of large Tsunami waves with this quake. In fact, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for several islands across the Pacific Ocean. According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake struck at around 9:38 a.m. Thursday Pacific Time (4:38 a.m. Friday local time). The epicenter of this quake was located around 130 miles southeast of the city of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. USGS data also revealed that the quake took place at a depth of 25 miles.

Posted below are excerpts from the tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

“An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 occurred in the the Solomon Islands at 17:39 UTC on Thursday, December 8, 2016. Based on the preliminary earthquake parameter, widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible.”

The initial large earthquake was followed by a smaller, magnitude 5.5 aftershock as well.

Tsunami Threat Forecast

Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some of the coasts of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu, and Kosrae. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has also directed government agencies in the affected region to take action and inform and instruct their coastal populations who are at risk. It has also asked people located in the threatened coastal areas to stay alert and listen for information from their respective national and local authorities.

The tsunami warning center has also issued the estimated times of arrival of the initial tsunami waves. However, it has also warned that the actual arrival times might differ and that the initial wave might not be the largest. They warned that a tsunami is a series of waves and the time between the initial and subsequent waves can be as little as five minutes to as long as an hour. Posted below is an image of the estimated time of arrival of the tsunami waves caused by this earthquake.

Solomon Islands earthquake
The expected ETA for the Tsunami Waves caused by the massive magnitude 7.8 earthquake off the coast of the Solomon Islands.Featured image credit: Rahul SrinivasPacific Tsunami Warning Center

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a tsunami watch has been issued for the state of Hawaii. However, the U.S. Tsunami Warning Center, which covers the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, is yet to issue any such advisory for the west coast of the United States.

The Solomon Islands consist of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands. It lies in the South Pacific Ocean; east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. The Solomon Islands is an independent nation and covers an area of 28,400 square kilometers (11,000 square miles). The city of Honiara serves as the country’s capital.

The Solomon Islands lies on the “Pacific Ring of Fire;” a series of fault lines that crisscross the Pacific Ocean. This area is known for its large, destructive earthquakes. The Solomon Islands, thanks to its location, has experienced such large earthquakes in the past as well.

One of the most recent ones was a large quake in 2007 that struck close to the New Georgia Islands near the Solomon Islands. This earthquake resulted in a destructive tsunami that led to the deaths of more than 50 people. More than 300 homes were destroyed in this incident, as well as a school and a hospital.

[Featured Image By Ross Setford/SNPA/ AP Images]