Landslide Risk fr/PNG Massive Earthquake

Massive but deep earthquake below Eastern Papua New Guinea – main concern : landslides

Last update: December 14, 2011 at 10:01 am by By 

Earthquake overview :A strong but very deep earthquake happened at 03:04 PM (15:04) below eastern Papua New Guinea. The depth of the earthquake will have weakened the shaking even just above the epicenter. Our main concern are possible landslides.

Update 14/12 – 09:55 UTC :   TJ Charlton, a person knowing the epicenter area very well, wrote a few minutes ago : Lots of legal and illegal gold mining in the Wau areaI am fearful of avalanches (ER : so are we) and some mine shafts collapsing…I was in Wau just a few months ago. Talk in Wau town (after a phone call) was that “trees were swaying from side to side” during the quake.  (ER : the good news is that the phone was still working)

Update : From James Daniell CATDAT database :
On 26th, February 1963, a M7.3 earthquake, 171km depth struck at -7.5, 146.2 (around 50km west of this epicenter), with only very minor damage reported and intensities of up to 7.
Other earthquakes to have hit the region have occurred in 2001 and 2010, although these are around 80km away, both being M6.2 and only causing minor damage. These were also shallower.
Generally PNG builds of materials that resist earthquakes well and it is unlikely that major damage occurred from this one.

Landscape in the greater area of the epicenter – picture courtesy Grant I. Tebbutt

Update : Mc Adam National park was at a relatively close distance from the epicenter (approx. 40 to 60 km).

Update : The closest settlements are Were Were, Winima, Kaisenik, Kwembu, Kudjeru and Wau

Update : The greater area of the epicenter has almost NO roads but a lot of small settlements . Based on our own experience with PNG earthquakes we do not expect to receive a lot of additional information from the inland settlements. They have NO phone lines (neither fixed or cell) and can mostly be reached by trails or dirt roads only.

Update : A 7.3 earthquake who occurred in 1987 at a distance of 193 km from the current epicenter had NO shaking deaths (focal depth unknown)

Update : USGS is expecting that 506,000 people will have experienced a VI (strong) MMI shaking, 973,000 people a moderate V MMI shaking

Update : WAPMERR, a specialized theoretical damage calculator expects NO fatalities and a max. of 30 injured people as a result of this earthquake.

Update : GDACS, who has great demographic number has calculated that 1,376 people are living within a radius of 10 km. 8,212 within a radius of 20 km and 314,609 within a radius of 100 km from the epicenter.

Update : The exact place of the epicenter is of lesser importance for these deep earthquakes. Even living above the epicenter one can compare it (simplified) with living at 121 km from the epicenter of the earthquake (depth was 121 km)

Update : This was the official NOAA message confirming our own estimate :

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