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The volcano is getting VERY active and the guides are VERY lax on safety, they not only let you go closer  than is safe, but take you right up and stand with you where it is definitely  NOT safe. Several times we asked our guide “is it safe here?” – “Yes, its safe”.  Moments later we are looking up at a lava bomb the size of a bar fridge above  our heads! I would advise Yasur is not an activity for children, the unfit or  the elderly. If a lava bomb is above you or coming near you DO NOT RUN, wait and  watch to see where it is falling then move to avoid it. Avoid being in a large group with people around you so that you can’t move quickly out of harms way.  The volcano was officially a level 2 but I would say it was a level 3. I saw a lava bomb land 100 metres outside of the volcano rim.  Shannon August 2008


Activity Levels and Access Rules
There are five levels of volcanic activity:
Level 0: Low activity, access to the crater allowed.
Level 1: Normal activity, access to the crater allowed.
Level 2: Moderate to high activity, lava bombs may land beyond the crater rim, access to the crater is closed.
Level 3: Severe activity with loud explosions, lava bombs ejected up to hundreds of metres outside the crater and large plumes of smoke and ash, access to the summit zone is closed.
Level 4: Major eruption affecting large areas around the volcano and possibly other parts of Tanna and even neighbouring islands, all access closed.


Magnitude 7.3 – VANUATU REGION

2010 December 25  13:16:37 UTC

Magnitude 7.3
Location 19.775°S, 167.895°E
Depth 12.3 km (7.6 miles)
Distances 145 km (90 miles) W of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu
195 km (120 miles) N of Tadine, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia
230 km (145 miles) S of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
1740 km (1080 miles) ENE of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 7 km (4.3 miles); depth +/- 7.8 km (4.8 miles)
Parameters NST=173, Nph=173, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=1.52 sec, Gp= 43°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
Event ID usc0000usf

2009 earthquakes

Earthquakes near Vanuatu, October 7–8, 2009.

Several moderate to major earthquakes affected the vicinity of Vanuatu and also of Santa Cruz Islands between October 7 and 8, 2009. The first earthquake struck at 2203 UTC on October 7, 2009 and measured 7.6 Mw. A tsunami warning was issued for 11 countries throughout the region although this was canceled within two hours after only a minor tsunami formed.[6][7]

The Vanuatu earthquakes occurred on (or near) the boundary of the Australia Plate and the Pacific Plate, and occurred mostly at a depth of 35 kilometers (22 miles). This boundary region is among the most seismically active areas in the world.[8]

The initial earthquake was re-designated as a foreshock because it was followed by a shock of 7.8 magnitude 15 minutes later in the same area. Moderate aftershocks occurred and those with magnitude 6.0 or higher are listed below (there were a dozen ranging from 5.0 to 5.8 within the 12 hours following the initial event). Shocks with magnitude 7.0 or higher are highlighted in light blue and the main shock of 7.8 is highlighted in dark blue.

Latitude↓ Longitude↓ Depth↓ Magnitude↓ Ref↓
2009-10-07 22:03:15 13.052° S 166.187° W 35 km (22 mi) 7.6 (Mw) [9]
2009-10-07 22:18:26 12.554° S 166.320° W 35 km (22 mi) 7.8 (Mw) [10]
2009-10-07 23:13:49 13.145° S 166.297° W 33 km (21 mi) 7.3 (Mw) [11]
2009-10-08 02:12:39 11.650° S 166.170° W 35 km (22 mi) 6.6 (Mw) [12]
2009-10-08 08:28:49 13.298° S 165.951° W 35 km (22 mi) 6.8 (Mw) [13]
2009-10-08 08:34:38 12.276° S 166.448° W 35 km (22 mi) 6.5 (Mw) [14]
2009-10-08 21:16:12 12.879° S 166.200° W 11 km (7 mi) 6.2 (Mw) [15]

2010 earthquakes

Vanuatu continued to experience significant earthquake activity in mid-2010. The largest of these included:

  • 28 May 2010, 04:14 AM local time: An earthquake measuring 7.4 occurred at sea 300 miles northwest of Port Vila at a depth of 22 miles. This prompted an immediate tsunami warning, though it was later then canceled.
  • 2010 August 10, 16:23 local time: A magnitude 7.3 quake – originally estimated at 7.5-7.6 – struck 22 miles (35 km) west-northwest of Port-Vila at a depth of 22 miles (35 km). Port Vila experienced telephone and power outages as a result, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre reported that the quake resulted in a 23-centimeter tsunami at that location.
  • December 26, 2010 at 12:16:37 AM local time: A magnitude 7.3 quake struck 145 km (90 miles) west of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu.[A few other earthquakes between magnitude 6.0 and 7.0 occurred in June, July, August and September.


Massive earthquake between New Caledonia and Vanuatu

Last update: May 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm by By Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell

UPDATE 23:00 UTC : A reader staying in Tanna has written this report to We bring it to you as it gives a lot of details on what exactly happened. It read’s like a video clip. Thanks a lot. He indicated the shaking as “very strong”. Tanna was at 134 km from the epicenter and was the closest island. (ER)

‘This was the strongest earthquake that I have felt since I arrived in Vanuatu  (Lenakel, Tanna) 15 months ago.  When It started I didn’t know what was going  on, because dogs were barking, but rapidly realized that a rather violent  earthquake was starting up.  Over the first 10 seconds it got stronger and  stronger, then maintained it’s vigor for about another 15-20 seconds while the  walls swayed, everything shook and rattled violently, with a few things falling  on the floor. I should explain that I live in a local “traditional” house  where the wall consists of 4 layers of concrete blocks into which vertical beams  that support the wall, and are connected to the roof joists.  There is a palm  thatch roof.  The whole building is very flexible, but sits on a firm concrete  base, so the experience is like that of being shaken by a giant hand -an  incredible feeling of power.  I went to the US Geological site and noted that the quake was quite shallow – less than 10 Km if  I remember correctly, which accounts for the violence.  It is 10:00 am here in  Lenakel (I work at the hospital) and I haven’t been down the hill to the town to  see what damage has been caused.  I suspect some stores may have to  tidy up the floors beneath their shelves!  When the quake finished there were  shouts of joy from those visiting their families – it was the end of visiting  hours!

UPDATE 19:01 UTC : Dianne Hambrook in Port Vila, Vanuatu experience report : “We definitely  felt that one! The 7.1 in the Loyalty Islands (it didn’t seem that  strong but it was quite a long way away). A kind of gentle, rocking and  rolling motion that went on for a long time.
The reports I read said “potentially affecting zero people”. Right!

UPDATE 11:15 UTC : Seismological bureaus have lowered the magnitude from the initial 7.1 to 6.8, seemingly nothing but in earthquake terms a big difference in energy.

UPDATE 11:13 UTC : As expected the first strong aftershock (5.7 magnitude) occurred a little while ago.  There might be some very strong aftershocks to follow, but the aftershocks will be normally harmless and will be gradually winding down from very strong, to strong, to moderate. We will publish the +4.5 aftershocks in our daily earthquake overview, just like we do for the Japan Tohoku earthquake.

UPDATE 10:27 UTC : Here is the USGS description of the tectonic elements that triggered a similar earthquake in the same area in December 2010. The forces that generated today’s earthquake are the same :

The Vanuatu (New Hebrides trench) earthquake of December 25, 2010,  occurred as the result of normal-faulting within the Australia plate, in  the region of the boundary between the Australia plate and the Pacific  plate.  In the epicentral region of the earthquake, the Australia plate  moves east-northeast relative to the Pacific plate with a velocity of  about 8 cm/yr.  The Australia plate subducts beneath the Pacific plate at the New Hebrides trench and is seismically active northeast of the  epicenter of the December 25 earthquake to a depth of 300 km.  The  stresses that generated the earthquake result from the bending of the  Australia plate as it subducts beneath the Pacific plate.
The New Hebrides arc region of the Australia/New Hebrides plate-boundary  experiences numerous strong earthquakes. In the past quarter century,  the thousand kilometer section of the arc centered on the epicenter of  the December 25 earthquake has produced 19 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or  greater, the largest having magnitude 7.7. The western margin of the Pacific plate that lies to the east of the New  Hebrides trench is commonly viewed as being subdivided into several  microplates that move with respect to each other at rates of a few  cm/yr.

‘Remind me not to build a brick building in Vanuatu…

Multiple 7. somethings spread over a couple of years has got to be nerve wracking…

When your aftershocks are 6.6 and you’ve had more 7.x in the year than I can remember, somthing is going on.  I don’t know what it is, but …’

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