The United States Geological Survey says a pair of very strong earthquakes rattled the South Pacific. Both quakes were centered just southwest of Vanuatu, an island nation located between Australia and Fiji in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The first earthquake, centered about 15 miles below the Earth's surface, was felt Thursday morning and was a magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale. The second earthquake was a magnitude 6.3 and struck about 15 minutes after the first quake was felt.
The large quakes were preceded and followed by numerous smaller earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 4.4 to 5.4.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii says that although a large and widespread tsunami is unlikely, earthquakes of this magnitude sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive for coastal areas within 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) of the epicenter of the quakes.