Earthquake in the Tokelau Islands

An unusual intra-plate earthquake struck the South Pacific state of the Tokelau Islands on Sunday afternoon, New Zealand time.

Tokelau, which is several hundred kilometres north of Fiji and Tonga where plate boundary earthquakes are commonly felt, does not normally experience such activity, and seismic records for the area are scarce.

Most of the planet’s earthquakes occur along plate boundaries, where the interaction of colliding tectonic plates causes crumpling or results in one plate sliding beneath the other.

Yesterday’s moderately strong earthquake occurred at a shallow depth, several hundred kilometres from the collision zone of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates near Fiji and Tonga.

The quake, which struck at 1:58 p.m. on Sunday September 3rd (NZST) was magnitude 5.3 at a depth of 10 km. The epicentre was 555 km west-north-west of Pukapuka in the Cook Islands, 1815 km north-west of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

[Compiled from data supplied by the US Geological Survey and its contributing agencies.]

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