Skip to main content

Strong Earthquake Hits Remote Japanese Islands

A 6.6-magnitude quake struck near Japan's remote Bonin Islands today (Nov. 30), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck at 12:24 p.m. local time (10:24 p.m. on Nov. 29) at a depth of nearly 300 miles (478 kilometers) in the Pacific Ocean, but it was strong enough to shake buildings 500 miles (810 kilometers) away in Tokyo, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Bonin Islands are part of an archipelago of over 30 islands known in Japan as the Ogasawara Group, which are about 540 miles (1,000 km) south of Tokyo. People live on only two of the islands, with a total population around 2,440.

The earthquake did not create a tsunami threat, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. [Related: Why Do Some Earthquakes Cause Tsunamis But Others Don't?]

While the specifics about the earthquake were not immediately known, the fault that ruptured appeared to be a type of thrust fault a break in the Earth's crust where a lower section is pushed over a higher one, which would be normal for Japan, according to the USGS.

Japan is part of the world's most active seismic region , the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire. The Pacific Ring of Fire is the world's greatest earthquake belt due to its series of fault lines stretching 25,000 miles (40,000 km) from Chile in South America through Japan and Southeast Asia.

Earthquakes typically occur along faults, which are breaks in the rocky plates of the Earth's crust. Strain accumulates in these faults over the years as two plates butt heads.

Roughly 90 percent of all the world's earthquakes , and 80 percent of the world's largest earthquakes, strike along the Ring of Fire. In 1995, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Kobe, Japan, killed 6,400 people.

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.