November 14, 2011 – A Strong Earthquake Struck Off Eastern Indonesia: A strong earthquake hit waters In the Molucca Sea, off eastern Indonesia on Monday. People on nearby islands where sent fleeing from their homes in panic. Fearing a tsunami that never came, villagers living along coastlines ran to high ground.
The 6.3 magnitude quake was centered 12 miles (20 kilometers) beneath the Molucca Sea. Mr. Suhardjono, from the Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency, said at that magnitude and depth there was no danger of tsunami. However, residents fled beaches all the same.
Many people in Ternate (see map), the town in North Maluku province that was closest to the epicenter, scurried from shaking buildings, said George Rajaloa, a resident. “I ran with everyone else,” he said.
The quake was 124 miles SSW of Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia; 209 miles NNW of Ambon, Moluccas, Indonesia; 530 miles north of Timor-Leste and 836 miles NNW of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
The tremor struck at 4:05AM UTC (GMT) time. It was 5:05PM at the epicenter. Due to the International Dateline, it was 11:05PM (Nov. 13th) in New York, 10:05PM in Chicago, 9:05PM in Denver and 8:05PM in Los Angeles.
Of the 346 global earthquakes, greater than or equal to 7.0 Magnitude that occurred between 1973 and 2011, Indonesia saw 36. Only Japan was struck by more at 37, followed by the USA (28) and Russia (25). Australia was hit by four. The 25 Russian earthquakes were mostly near the Kamchatka Peninsula or the Kirul Islands to the south. Most of the USA quakes were in Southern Alaska or along the Aleutian Island chain to the west.
The last earthquakes >= 7.0M that occurred in Indonesia were in 2010. That year saw three quakes: (1) April 6th – 7.8M near Sumatra, (2) May 9th – 7.2M North of Indonesia near Simeulue Island, and (3) October 25th – 7.8M near Sumatra, Indonesia.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant quake off the south-west of the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed over 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh. The tsunami washed away entire villages and wiped some islands clean of any human life.
The Master of Disaster