Tuesday, 26 April 2011 9:23 AM

Powerful Earthquake over the Weekend

A powerful earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands on Saturday afternoon, seismologists said, but no tsunami warnings were issued.

The 6.9 magnitude earthquake at 3.16 p.m. local time (0416 GMT) was centered about 77 kilometers (48 miles) west of Kirakira on Makira. It struck about 81.6 kilometers (50.7 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

There were no reported damages or casualties as a result of the earthquake, but the USGS estimated that some 4,000 people near the epicenter may have felt 'very strong' shaking that may have resulted in moderate damage to infrastructure.

Experts said there was no danger of a large tsunami as a result of the tremor. "A widespread destructive tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement.

The Solomon Islands are on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

The Solomon Islands arc as a whole experiences a very high level of earthquake activity, and many tremors of magnitude 7 and larger have been recorded since the early decades of the twentieth century.

On April 2, 2007, a massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck close to the New Georgia Islands of the Solomon Islands. It unleashed a regional tsunami, killing 52 people and destroying some 300 homes, schools and a hospital at Sasamunga. Two people were killed as a result of landslides, which were triggered by the earthquake.

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