Mw 6.8 Vanuatu
updated 20 August 2021

On 9 May 2017 a strong earthquake occurred at Vanuatu at a depth of 186 km. The seismic event occurred at 13:52:12 UTC and had an estimated moment magnitude (Mw) 6.8.

Three planetary alignments from 6 to 9 May preceded the earthquake, most notably Mars-Mercury-Saturn and also Sun-Mercury-Saturn. Seismic activity could have been considerably larger with this planetary geometry, but from 23 January to 16 July Earth simply did not produce magnitude 7 earthquakes. It was one of the magnitude 7 droughts that characterized 2017, 2018 and 2019. The first lunar peak after the Mars-Mercury-Saturn alignment occurred on 7-8 May peaking 10, after which a Mw 6.4 earthquake occurred at the Andreanof Islands, Aleutian Islands. This lunar peak was almost immediately followed by a second peak reaching index 13 on the 9th converging with the critical planetary geometry on 8-9 May. Increased seismic activity continued with a Mw 6.0 early on the 9th at the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, followed by the strong earthquake at Vanuatu. Seismic activity continued in the low 6 magnitude range until the 15th. The next seismic increase began on 29 May with a Mw 6.6 earthquake when Earth aligned with Mars and Saturn.

Mars-Mercury-Saturn       2017-05-06,  6:51:28  263°22'12"

Moon-Earth-Venus          2017-05-07,  2:58:19    4°25'30"
Earth-Moon-Jupiter        2017-05-07, 22:37:44  194°31'51"

Sun-Mercury-Saturn        2017-05-08, 16:24:45  263°07'34"

Moon-Earth-Mercury        2017-05-08, 19:17:04   25°02'56"
Moon-Earth-Uranus         2017-05-08, 20:23:28   25°36'35"

Mars-Venus-Saturn         2017-05-09,  7:29:36  263°39'06"
SSGI chart
SSGI depiction of planetary (PG) and lunar (LG) geometry


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