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7.0 quake hits north of New Zealand, causes small tsunami

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The epicenter of the earthquake (Credit: Google)

A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake has struck the Pacific Ocean near the Kermadec Islands, far north of New Zealand’s mainland, seismologists say. Small tsunami waves were observed at a nearby island.

The earthquake, which struck at 1:56 p.m. local time on Thursday, was centered about 195 kilometers (121 miles) southeast of Raoul Island, the largest of the Kermadec Islands, or 1,125 kilometers (700 miles) northeast of Auckland.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0, down from 7.1 in an earlier assessment. It struck about 22 kilometers (14 miles) below the seabed, making it a shallow earthquake.

Tsunami alerts – which were initially issued for the Kermadec Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Tonga – were canceled when it was determined there was no longer a threat.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said very small tsunami waves were observed at two locations on Raoul Island, which is uninhabited except for a permanently-manned weather and radio station.

“Minor sea level fluctuations may occur in some coastal areas near the earthquake over the next few hours,” the center said in an update. “Remain observant and exercise normal caution near the sea. Otherwise, no action is required.”

New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands and the surrounding region as a whole are part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur in the region.

Earlier this month, a strong but deep 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific Ocean near the Kermadec Islands. And in June 2019, a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake caused a small tsunami at Raoul Island.

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