solomon islands climate change
File photo: Solomon Islands Jenny Scott/Flickr

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has now lifted its tsunami warning for the Solomon Islands, plus nearby islands including Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

No tsunami was reported in the region following the earthquake, although phones and power were down in some areas for a time. Residents said on social media they fled to higher ground when the tsunami warning came through.

Tsunami warnings had been issued across the region after the earthquake – initially reported at 8.0 magnitude – struck 70km south-west of the Solomon Islands. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake was 7.7 magnitude. According to USGS the tremor struck at 5.40pm GMT (4.40am Friday local time).

Vanuatu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea had all been warned of possible danger following what is thought to be the strongest earthquake so far in 2016.

However a tsunami warning for Hawaii was quickly cancelled. The PTWC has now cancelled the tsunami threat for the Solomon Islands as well. The earthquake was at a depth of 40km (25 miles) which explains why no wave was generated.

The Solomon Islands have been struck by a number of earthquakes in the recent past, several of which generated tsunamis. On 2nd April 2007, an 8.0 quake caused a tsunami of up to 10 metres in height to hit the islands, killing at least 52 people. Another earthquake on 6th February 2013 left an unknown number dead, mostly as a result of collapsing buildings, though a tsunami was generated.

The Solomon Islands lie within the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a region of intense seismic activity that includes Japan, Chile and much of the Pacific. According to National Geographic 90% of all earthquakes on earth take place along the Ring of Fire, and 75% of all active volcanoes are also dotted along the rim. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake had earlier affected the San Andreas Fault in California.

Solomon Islands USGS 8 December 2016
Solomon Islands earthquake map, 8 December 2016 USGA