UPDATE FEBRUARY 6, 2013 4:35 A.M. CDT (9:45 UTC) Many media are reporting that at least five people have died from a tsunami in a remote part of the Solomon Islands, near Australia, after a rare and powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake earlier today. The tsunami triggered evacuations across the South Pacific. The quake struck 340 km (211 miles) east of Kira Kira in the Solomons. At least 100 homes in the community of Lata are said to have been destroyed in the tsunami. Water and electricity remain down there at this writing. There are unconfirmed reports of fishermen swept out to sea.
Read more about tsunami destruction from the New York Times
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck at 01:22 UTC on February 6, 2013 (Tuesday evening, June 5, in continental U.S.). The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for places in the Pacific near the epicenter, and a watch elsewhere in the Pacific. It later canceled the warnings for the outlying regions. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center commented in their bulletin:
AN EARTHQUAKE OF THIS SIZE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO GENERATE A DESTRUCTIVE TSUNAMI THAT CAN STRIKE COASTLINES NEAR THE EPICENTER WITHIN MINUTES AND MORE DISTANT COASTLINES WITHIN HOURS.
Here are the details of the earthquke from USGS.
2013-02-06 01:12:23 UTC
2013-02-05 19:12:23 UTC-06:00 system time
Magnitude 8 earthquakes are rare. The February 6, 2013 earthquake occurred as a result of faulting – the movement of rocks along a fracture in Earth’s crust – on or near the plate boundary interface between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of this earthquake, the Australia plate converges with and subducts – or dives – beneath the Pacific plate, moving towards the east-northeast at a rate of approximately 94 mm/year.
Here is the original bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (later cancelled):
TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 0118Z 06 FEB 2013
THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.
… A TSUNAMI WARNING AND WATCH ARE IN EFFECT …
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR
SOLOMON ISLANDS / VANUATU / NAURU / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / TUVALU /
NEW CALEDONIA / KOSRAE / FIJI / KIRIBATI / WALLIS AND FUTUNA
A TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR
MARSHALL ISLANDS / HOWLAND AND BAKER / POHNPEI / TOKELAU /
SAMOA / KERMADEC ISLANDS / NEW ZEALAND / AMERICAN SAMOA /
TONGA / AUSTRALIA / NIUE / COOK ISLANDS / INDONESIA /
WAKE ISLAND / CHUUK / JARVIS ISLAND / GUAM / NORTHERN MARIANAS /
PALMYRA ISLAND / YAP / JOHNSTON ISLAND / MINAMITORISHIMA /
Bottom line: A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands on February 6, 2013 (February 5 in the U.S.). It generated a small tsunami that left at least five dead in a remote part of the Solomon Islands.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.