Magnitude 8.0 - TONGA

2006 May 03 15:26:39 UTC

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Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location20.130°S, 174.164°W
Depth55 km (34.2 miles) set by location program
Distances160 km (100 miles) NE of NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga
165 km (100 miles) S of Neiafu, Tonga
460 km (285 miles) S of Hihifo, Tonga
2145 km (1330 miles) NNE of Auckland, New Zealand
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 5.3 km (3.3 miles); depth fixed by location program
ParametersNST=209, Nph=209, Dmin=732.7 km, Rmss=0.81 sec, Gp= 22°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=Q
Event IDusmgas
  • Did you feel it? Report shaking and damage at your location. You can also view a map displaying accumulated data from your report and others.

Earthquake Summary

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Earthquake Summary Poster

  • The following is a release by the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: A great earthquake occurred about 160 km (100 miles) NE of NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga at 9:26 AM MDT, May 3, 2006 (May 04 at 4:26 AM local time in Tonga). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available. No reports of damage or casualties have been received at this time; however, this earthquake may have caused damage due to its location and size. Earthquakes of this type sometimes cause tsunamis, however the USGS has no information that an actual tsunami has been generated. For information about tsunamis, contact the NOAA Tsunami Warning Centers at
  • Felt Reports

    One person injured, a church damaged, windows broken and items knocked from shelves (VII) at Nuku`alofa. Felt (VI) at Neiafu. Felt at Hihifo, Pangai and Vaini. Felt (III) at Apia, Samoa. Felt at Atiu and Avarua, Cook Islands; at Suva, Fiji; at Alofi, Niue; at Mulifanua, Samoa. Also felt at Auckland, Minginui, Napier, Wanganui, Wellington and Whakatane, New Zealand. A tsunami was generated with recorded wave heights in meters (peak-to-trough) at the following selected tide stations: 0.54 at Pago Pago, American Samoa; 0.10 at Tofino, British Columbia, Canada; 0.13 at Raratonga, Cook Islands; 0.07 at Suva, Fiji; 0.15 at Hanasaki, Japan; 0.48 at Noumea, New Caledonia; 0.15 at Jackson Bay, New Zealand; 0.42 on Niue; 0.42 at Apia, Samoa; 0.42 at Nuku`alofa, Tonga; 0.13 at King Cove, Alaska, 0.54 at Crescent City, California, 0.35 at Santa Barbara, California, 0.10 at San Francisco, California, 0.49 at Kahului, Hawaii, 0.12 at Portland, Oregon, 0.11 at La Push, Washington, U.S.A; 0.45 at Port Vila, Vanuatu.

    Tectonic Summary

    The broad-scale tectonics of the earthquake region are dominated by the relative convergence of the Pacific and Australia plates. The Pacific plate subducts westward beneath the Australia plate at the Tonga trench. At the latitude of the earthquake, the Pacific plate moves westward with respect to the interior of the Australia plate at a velocity of about 77 mm/year. The eastern edge of the broad Australia plate may itself be viewed as a collection of small plates or microplates that move with respect to each other and with respect to the Pacific plate and the Australia plate interior.

    In terms of numbers of earthquakes, the broad-scale Australia/Pacific plate boundary is one of the most active in the world. Earthquakes occur on the thrust-fault boundary between the Australia and Pacific plates, within the Pacific plate, and within and on the boundaries of the small plates that together compose the eastern edge of the overall Australia plate. On the basis of currently available information, we infer that the earthquake of May 3, 2006, occurred within the subducted Pacific plate proper or on the interface between the Pacific plate and the Australia plate.

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    Tsunami Information

    The earthquake locations and magnitudes cited in NOAA tsunami statements and bulletins are preliminary and are superseded by USGS locations and magnitudes computed using more extensive data sets.

    NOAA Tsunami Bulletins for this Earthquake

    No Bulletins have been issued at this time.

    General Tsunami Information

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