Papua New Guinea – M 7.0 – Heavy earthquake under New Britain Island

Earthquake Report comment :
Earthquake occurred at a depth of 81 km, a little softening the impact.
Other area than the powerful earthquakes from the last few weeks.
GDACS ORANGE Earthquake alert = Moderately dangerous
120,000 people live in a radius of 100 km around the epicenter.
Strong to very strong shaking in 50% of the island expected.
Earthquake happened in the morning hours.
Epicenter is located in the middle of the jungle, very difficult to get by.
NO Tsunami risk for U.S. West Coast, Alaska, and British Columbia coastal regions (see bulletin below).
As the earthquake epicenter is under land, the chance on local tsunamis is very limited.
Based on our experience it will take many hours before aid teams can reach the epicenter area.
Based on USGS data 31,000 people may have experienced very strong shaking (living in a radius of 50 km around the epicenter).
Very big landslides maybe expected in this mountainous rain forest.
Only one road is going from west to east and a severe earthquake may render it unusable. Even without earthquakes these roads are often blocked by landslides and muddy conditions.

Update 23:34 UTC : Cloud cover for the next 5 days will be 40 to 60 % making overflying the epicenter area (almost the only means to reach this area of the country) very difficult.
Local on-line newspapers are very slow to react and have still not posted a message on their websites.
As the epicenter is in the middle of the jungle, houses are primitive and do mostly not use bricks or concrete, thus minimizing the chance on collapse and injuring the people.
USGS has received so far 3 responses of light shaking (Mercalli IV) in Kimbe, 75 km from the epicenter.

Update 12:03 UTC  August 5 : NO additional news from the earthquake area. The local press in Port Moresby has even not reported that there was an earthquake ! As mentioned earlier on in this report, it can take up to several days before a reliable report can be found. We at ‘Earthquake Report’ are pledging that the International community (United Nations ?) would help governments of poor countries to strengthen  communications and aid.

Update 12:41 UTC August 5 : The Acting Director for PNG’s National Disaster Centre, Martin Mose, says a team assessing the area for damage is expected to report back in a few days. (Please read report of Radio New Zealand International in full).

Update 12:02 UTC August 6 : The National, a local Papua New Guinea newspaper has written a small report on this earthquake. As written here before, the local people and the administration do the best they can, but with only limited resources, little is really little here.

KIMBE was again shaken yesterday as an earthquake measuring 7.0 struck the West New Britain township.
There no reports of casualties and damages to properties.
The earthquake occurred at the same spot of the 7.3 quake two weeks ago that caused injuries and damage to property.
The West New Britain disaster office could not give any reports as the disaster director was out of the province.
Read the Full report of Elisabeth Vuvu from The National

Earthquake Report Preliminary conclusion
Although this will probably not be a devastating earthquake, the conditions of the terrain and the strong shaking may damage buildings and infrastructure.  It will take a lot of time (we expect more than 1 day, even many days) before villages in the interior of the island can be reached. Papua New Guinea is a very poor country with limited resources to fight catastrophes.

The island of New Britain has been squeezed over and over again during the last few weeks since a very powerful earthquake measuring M 7.3 struck  near the coast on July 18, 2010. A lot of houses were damaged and 1 person died.

New Britain, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago (named after Otto von Bismarck) of Papua New Guinea.  The main towns of New Britain are Rabaul/Kokopo and Kimbe.
New Britain and New Ireland are so named because their outlines on a map roughly correspond to those of the British Isles.

Tectonic plates in the area
The northward-migrating Solomon Sea Plate is subducted under the South Bismarck Plate.
The Solomon Sea Plate is also subducted beneath the Pacific Plate.
There are two short spreading centers, one at the southeast margin of the Solomon Sea Plate and the other at the north edge of the South Bismarck Plate.
As can be seen from the map below, the Woodlark Plate stretches under the North-Eastern Coast of Papua New Guinea. Powerful earthquakes and volcanoes result from the subduction of these plates.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Thursday, August 05, 2010 at 08:01:47 AM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 81 km (reviewed to the more dangerous depth of 54 km)
Geo-location(s) :
Nearest village Tumula
75 km (45 miles) ESE of Kimbe, New Britain, PNG
140 km (88 miles) E (80°) from Kandrian, New Britain, PNG
251 km (156 miles) SW (218°) from Rabaul, New Britain, PNG

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
GDACS ORANGE Earthquake Alert (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System)
NOAA Tsunami bulletin for U.S. West Coast, Alaska, and British Columbia coastal regions (NO risk)

* GDACS (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System) provides near real-time alerts about natural disasters around the world.  GDACS is a Joint Initiative of the United Nations and the European Commission

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3 Responses

  1. […] 27) M 5.6      2010/08/05 05:09:27 Depth 69.8      NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (aftershock M 7.0) M 4.7      2010/08/05 04:52:49 Depth 93.4      SOUTHERN PERU M 4.7      2010/08/05 […]

  2. […] Original Papua New Guinea report of the M 7.0 from August 4 can be read here. […]

  3. […] M 7.0      2010/08/04 22:01  Depth 44 km      NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA Reason : Epicenter area too far away from everything.  No roads for at least 50 km from the epicenter and a beautiful but impregnable jungle with steep hills and mountains. PNG has not enough equipment to reach these tribal areas. Instead of sending a few helicopters to overfly the area, they send personnel by feet. These inspections will take days to reach and area and days to return to Andria or Kimbe. […]

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