In the Southwestern Pacific the Solomon islands group, has nearly one thousand
islands (total land mass about 60,000 square kilometers), and is shared by five
nations: Papua-New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and New
Caledonia with a total small island (so excluding New Guinea itself) population
about one million people. There was a Richter 6.8 4/23/2011 at 4:16:55 UTC with
an adjusted epicenter of 10.37 South 161.22 East and a depth of 79 km. As we shall
see, a mere 6.8 is no big deal for the Solomons. For example, on 1 April 2007 at
20:40 (UTC) an 8.1 earthquake with a epicenter of 8.47 South and 157.04 East and
an estimated depth of 24 kilometers caused a tsunami and was followed by 79
Richter 5.0 or greater aftershocks (including a 6.9) in the next two days, and
another 43 events in the next two months. We did a chronological cluster analysis,
but of more importance was that the initial 2007 major event caused a tsunami
that killed at least 52 people and destroyed more than 900 homes, leaving
thousands of people homeless. Fans of volcanic disasters will recall that Rabaul on
New Britain (actually part of Papua-New Guinea) was effectively destroyed (again)
by a volcanic eruption in 1994. Today, Mount Bagana in the north central part of
Bougainville is conspicuously active, as are the Tinakula and Kavachi volcanoes.
The area is rich in volcanoes, which should mean corresponding mineral wealth.
Unfortunately, the Solomon Islands are unstable politically as well as seismically.
Part of the problem is the number of living languages listed for Solomon Islands is
70: even though English is the official language, it is estimated only two percent
(2%) of residents are literate in it. The lingua franca, so as to speak, is Solomons
Pijin. Among other things, this indicates more emphasis on education is needed.
When we were analyzing the economic impact of tsunamis in straits we looked at
Saint George's Channel in the Bismarck Archipelago (lies between New Ireland and
eastern New Britain: it is named by analogy with St George's Channel between
Great Britain and Ireland) as well as both the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits (west of