Russia Earthquake: Tsunami Warning Issued After Major Quake off Country's East Coast

russia earthquake tsunami threat
An earthquake off the coast of Russia on Thursday morning prompted a tsunami warning for parts of the area. United States Geological Survey (USGS)

A major earthquake that hit off the coast of Russia on Thursday was believed to have enough power to be possible of causing a tsunami as well.

On Thursday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck off of Russia's east coast. The quake struck west of Nikol'skoye and was 9.6 kilometers deep, equivalent to about six miles.

Following the earthquake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a tsunami warning for the Komandorskiye Ostrova region in Russia. The rural locality of Ust-Kamachatsk and Medny Island were listed on the warning as two possible areas that could be at risk. Tsunami arrival times for the areas were at 5:25 p.m. UTC for Ust-Kamachatsk and 5:36 p.m. UTC for Medny Island. However, the warning noted that times could vary.

A subsequent warning from the PTWC added Ostrov Karagins and Petropavlovsk to the list of threatened areas and explained that waves could range from 0.3 of a meter to one meter, the equivalent of about one foot to three feet. The actual effects of a possible tsunami may vary from expectations due to uncertainties in the forecast.

People located in the threatened coastal areas were advised to remain alert and follow instructions from national and local authorities.

After the initial quake was reported, USGS reported four smaller earthquakes within about 30 minutes of each other. The first two earthquakes following the 7.4 quake registered as having a magnitude of 5.6, while the third and fourth had a magnitude of 5.0. It's not uncommon after a large earthquake hits to have several smaller aftershocks.

Earthquakes are measured on the Richter magnitude scale, which identifies a magnitude 7.4 quake as a major earthquake. During an earthquake of the magnitude, structures will be damaged, possibly causing a collapse. Heavy furniture will also be overturned and chimneys, columns and monuments may fall.

Since the recent earthquake in Russia occurred out at sea, it's unlikely to have caused much damage, although the added threat of the tsunami could increase the probability of damage to life and property.

Following the earthquake, the PTWC explained that there was no tsunami threat for Hawaii, American Samoa or Guam.