A MAJOR 8.0 magnitude earthquake has struck 47km west of Arawa on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, the United States Geological Survey (USGC) reports.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has warned a “widespread tsunami” is possible due to the quake.
The PTWC warned hazardous waves could hit coastal areas of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nauru, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and others within the next three hours.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre says there is no threat to Australia. and no tsunami warning for New Zealand.
The USGS says the quake had a depth of 167km.
There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Bougainville and the nearby Solomon Islands are in the Pacific’s geologically active “Ring of Fire” — so-called because it is a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.
In it’s preliminary assessment the USGS said light to moderate damage was possible on Bougainville Island.
The PTWC warned that waves of between 0.3 and one metre (1-3 feet) above tide level were possible for some coastal areas of PNG and the neighbouring Solomon Islands.
Smaller waves were possible for other nearby countries, it added.
“Even though it (the earthquake) is quite deep at 150 kilometres, because it is such a large earthquake, it will produce shaking on the surface,” Geoscience Australia seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos told AFP.
He added that some damage was possible.
A 7.9-magnitude quake struck off Papua New Guinea in mid-December, but no casualties were reported and an initial tsunami threat was later deemed to have passed.
In 2013 the Solomon Islands were hit by a devastating tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the region. That tsunami left at least 10 people dead, destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands of people.