Is Papua New Guinea’s Earthquake Related To Nepal's Earthquake? Two Hit The Country In Two Days

On Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea followed by a 7.1 aftershock. The day before, the country was shaken by another quake measuring at 6.7. The quakes in Papua New Guinea come less than a week after the devastating 7.8 earthquake in Nepal. But while seismologists have said that the earthquakes in two countries were caused by the same plate movements, they are not related to one another. Furthermore, the latest quakes that shook the Oceanian country were significantly less damaging.

So far, there have been no reports of damages or casualties in Papua New Guinea, which experiences earthquakes quite commonly. The country takes up the eastern half of New Guinea, an island that lies along the border of the Pacific tectonic plate and the Australian plate, both of which form a portion of the Ring of Fire, a large region where earthquakes and volcano eruptions are known to occur.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a warning of possible hazardous tsunami waves, but the alert has since been lifted.

Dr. Roger Musson, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey, told Sky News that the pair of quakes were not as substantial as some previous ones in the country:

The last big one that we had in this area, of magnitude 8, caused a tsunami that killed about 40 people but this one, I think, is too small and too deep.
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The quake was centered about 70 miles from Papa New Guinea's capital, Kokopo, and occurred at a depth of roughly 35 miles.

Though they may not be considered major, Dr. Musson explained how the quakes in Papua New Guinea were related to a much more significant one.

This is another thrust earthquake, which is the same sort of fault movement as occurred in the earthquake in Nepal.

Thrust earthquakes occur at plate boundary zones when one tectonic plate forces the other underneath.

In this case, it is an ocean plate — the Solomon Sea is being pushed underneath New Britain (Island) — and it is a very active seismic zone ... it's produced much larger earthquakes than this one we've had.
Omar Havana/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Despite being the same type of earthquake, the ones in Papa New Guinea were not related to the massive tremor that shook Nepal last Saturday. The two countries are more than 4,600 miles apart and are situated over different tectonic plates. The quakes in Papua New Guinea were also nowhere near as devastating as the one in Nepal.

Daniel Jaksa, co-director of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, told Agence-France Press that the latest Papa New Guinea earthquake, which hit a relatively uninhabited region of the country, is "about 30 times smaller than the (recent) earthquake in Nepal" and will likely have "no real impact."

In contrast, the earthquake in Nepal has killed more than 6,000 people, with thousands still unaccounted for, and has heavily devastated the quake's epicenter.Images: Getty Images (2)