The Northern Islands of the Commonwealth was rocked by a series of four earthquakes yesterday, soon after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the Kermadec Islands in New Zealand last Friday afternoon, triggering concerns of a potential tsunami in the Pacific, including Guam, but not the CNMI.
The latest was a 4.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred at 20.900°N 144.534°E in the Maug region at 5:52pm yesterday, March 7, 2021. Before that, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake occurred at 21.046°N 144.544°E at 11:03am. Earlier in the day, at 9:37am, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake occurred at 21.130°N 144.511°E. At 5:15am, a report of a 5.7-magnitude earthquake occurred 20.888°N 144.315°E in the Maug region in the Northern Mariana Islands.
In all cases, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue tsunami warnings or advisories.
In the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that struck roughly 600 miles northeast of New Zealand, the tsunami risk spanned from New Zealand and Australia to as far east as Central and South America.
The 8.1 tremor was the third major earthquake in less than eight hours on the Kermadec Fault, which passes east of New Zealand. A magnitude 7.3 hit near New Zealand early on Thursday, followed by a 7.4 about 560 miles to the north a few hours later.
The National Weather Service Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued tsunami alerts for Australia and New Zealand, numerous islands in the South Pacific, and along the western coasts of South America and Central America, for projected tsunami waves of up to 1 to 3 feet. Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru in Central and South America were under these alerts. The Pacific Tsunami Center projected the largest tsunami waves, of up to 10 feet (3 meters) or more in the Kermadec Islands, about 500 to 600 miles northeast of New Zealand, with waves of 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meters) in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
There have been no reports of any damage or tsunamis since then.
In a post on its Facebook page, the CNMI Office of the Governor assured that there was no tsunami threat to the CNMI but residents were still advised of minor sea level fluctuations. “Please be cautious in our waters through this afternoon,” the advisory stated. For more information, contact the CNMI EOC State Warning Point at 237-8000. (Saipan Tribune/With Washington Post)