New Caledonia
New Caledonia

A powerful magnitude 7 earthquake near the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific has triggered a tsunami warning.

The United States Geological Survey said the undersea quake struck 82 kilometers east of the Loyalty Islands at 9.43 a.m. local time. Tsunami waves were observed in New Caledonia and Vanuatu after an earthquake struck between the Pacific Islands on Monday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. It was the second major tremor in the same area in just over 12 hours and the third in the past month.

The agency said waves as high as one meter above the high-tide mark were forecast to hit New Caledonia and smaller waves were expected in Vanuatu.

It said the actual size of the waves would vary depending on the coastline, with barrier reefs reducing wave height, and warned that the initial wave may not be the largest.

"Government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations at risk," the PTWC said in an alert. "Persons in threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities."

Authorities in Australia and New Zealand said there were no tsunami threats to either of those countries.

New Caledonia is part of the "Ring of Fire," a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.