Solomon Islands Tsunami

Solomon Islands Tsunami

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and generated a tsunami. Initial reports indicate the earthquake caused no damage, although it was felt by people onshore. The tsunami has reportedly destroyed three villages.

The Solomon Islands lie along a subduction zone in the South Pacific. Subduction zones occur when one tectonic plate slides underneath another tectonic plate. These areas have frequent and powerful earthquakes.

The tsunami formed by the earthquake hit Lata Wharf in the Solomon Islands eighteen minutes after the quake at about half past noon, with a height of 3.4 feet. Tsunami height is the height of the water above the normal tide at the time the tsunami arrives onshore. Other nearby islands received smaller tsunamis: Guadalcanal, four inches; Vanuatu, seven inches; and Honiara, capitol of the Solomons, 2.5 inches.

Reportedly, three coastal villages were destroyed and four people were confirmed dead. Many more are injured or missing. Aftershocks are continuing, but no more tsunamis are expected.

The islands range in elevation from sea level to 7500 feet above sea level. The hospital and infrastructure near Lata is built on higher ground, so people from low-lying areas had someplace to run. However, according to an interview with Temotu Provincial police commander Alfred Uiga, locals received no tsunami warnings. People ran when they saw the water go out from the shore.

The tsunami stayed local and the warnings were canceled for more distant shores such as Japan and Australia soon after the tsunami hit the Solomon Islands.

The video below has some photos of the area of the Solomon Islands affected by the tsunami. The photo at 0:25 shows schoolchildren being moved to higher ground in Honiara.

The second video below shows some initial photos of the damage to the villages, starting at 0:15.

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Author: Heather Carr

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