Twin 6.3 Earthquakes Hit South Pacific

March 24 2018 South Pacific Earthquakes
March 24 2018 South Pacific Earthquakes
New Guinea Cruise ports
New Guinea Cruise ports

On March 24, 2018, twin 6.3 Earthquakes hit the South Pacific. One was located at Southeast of the Indian Ridge, and was nowhere near any populations. The second earthquake was also a 6.3 and was located 148km east of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea.

New Guinea Cruise ports in this region include: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby Papua New Guinea and Alotau, Papua New Guinea. Paul Gauguin Cruises uses these ports for cruise ship calls. Our Australia Cruise Ship Tracker covers these ports.

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

With a chequered history of destruction from both natural and human forces, Rabaul’s proximity to active volcanoes has seen it twice being completely covered in ash, first in 1937 and more recently in 1994. Rebuilding began after the first eruption and again after allied forces destroyed the town from bombing during World War II. Since 1994, however, many of the streets have remained largely abandoned, giving the town a slightly post-apocalyptic feel, despite it being a fascinating place to visit.

If not for the town’s port, and its proximity to some of PNG’s best diving and snorkelling sites, tourists would likely never see what was formerly one of Papua New Guinea’s most picturesque settlements. While the current population is a shadow of the more than 17,000 people that lived here in 1990, there’s still plenty for visitors to see.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, Port Moresby is the most populous city in Papua New Guinea — and the South Pacific. Historically made up of tribal peoples making their living from the sea, Port Moresby did not begin to develop as a Westernized city until the late 19th century. In 1975, Britain’s Prince Charles was present for the official ceremonies marking Papua New Guinea’s independence, with Port Moresby becoming its capital city. While here, perhaps you’ll admire the mosaic façade of the National Parliament House, inhale the fragrance of tropical blooms at the Port Moresby Nature Park, or marvel at the depth and diversity of the local culture at the National Museum and Art Gallery.

Alotau is the capital of Milne Bay Province, located on the right tip of Papua New Guinea’s main island, and the main port for the 160 islands that encompass the area. It is also the first stop on most cruise itineraries to Papua New Guinea. As ports go, this is very much a working port with hundreds of small ships, boats and canoes making their way to and from the islands for trade and transport.

Alotau, Papua New Guinea

Alotau and Milne Bay are perhaps best known as being the site for the Battle of Milne Bay where imperial Japanese forces suffered their first loss in WWII at the hands of Australian and American troops stationed there.

About These Twin Earthquakes

The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

Nearby Places:

  • Kimbe, Papua New Guinea – 149.1 km (92.7 mi) E Population: 18,847
  • Kokopo, Papua New Guinea – 152.2 km (94.6 mi) SW Population: 26,273
  • Kavieng, Papua New Guinea – 329.9 km (205.0 mi) SSE Population: 14,490
  • Arawa, Papua New Guinea – 459.8 km (285.7 mi) W Population: 40,266
  • Popondetta, Papua New Guinea – 510.4 km (317.2 mi) NE Population: 28,19

Article Resources:

Video: Back to Back 6.3 Earthquakes…Papua New Guinea & South Indian Ridge 3/24/2018