Four earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 4.5 - 7.8 have struck the South Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia between March 1st and 2nd. The M7.8 earthquake struck 800 km off the west coast of the island of Sumatra. The M5.1 earthquake struck 34 km south of Gombangan, Indonesia on March 2, 2016, on the island of Java. On March 1st, a M4.5 earthquake struck 291 km west of Saumlaki, Indonesia, in the Banda Sea. Also on March 1st, a M4.7 earthquake struck 41 km southeast of Taron, Papua New Guinea, on the island of New Ireland.
The earthquake southwest of Sumatra occurred as a result of an event within the Ido-Australia plate. A deformation zone defining the boundary between the India and Australia plates is nearby. The earthquake south of Java occurred as a result of the India and Australia plates converging. The earthquake west of Saumlaki and the earthquake southeast of Taron resulted from the Australia plate converging with the Pacific plate. Indonesia is an archipelago comprised of more than 17,000 islands that combine to a size of almost three times Texas. Papua New Guinea is also an island nation, slightly larger than California.
Indonesia's hazards include: occasional flooding, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires. Papua New Guinea faces natural hazards due to active volcanism, frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes, mud slides, and tsunamis; it is also situated along the Pacific "Ring of Fire."
If you would like to learn more about earthquakes, please visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program; CIA World Factbook, 3/2016; 2/2016