Earthquake Strikes Near Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula
Map of earthquake location today (Feb. 28, 2013) near Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.
Credit: USGS.

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 6.9 struck today just off the southern tip of eastern Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The temblor's epicenter was 156 miles (251 km) south-southwest of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and 53 miles (85 km) southeast of Ozernovskiy, Russia. It originated 32.6 miles (52.5 km) deep and struck at 12:05 a.m. Friday local time (1405 UTC Thursday), the USGS reports.

The Kuril-Kamchatka arc — which extends from northern Japan and along the Kuril Islands to the Kamchatka Peninsula — is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Over the past century, seven huge earthquakes 8.3 in magnitude or larger have struck the area.

Earthquakes like the one that struck today can cause significant damage, especially with poorly built structures, and are sometimes followed by significant aftershocks. But the damage caused by any single event depends on the quake's depth, proximity to populated areas, building standards in the region, as well as the type of earthquake. The USGS frequently updates the magnitude of an event after more data is analyzed.

An earthquake's magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source. It is just one predictor of the shaking that may ensue, which is affected by local and regional geology. Scientists know in a general sense what causes Earthquakes but are unable to predict specific quakes.

This article will be updated if significant additional information becomes available. Find more earthquake news here.