Very strong earthquakes near antarctic Elephant Island (an Antarctica cruises destination)

Earthquake overview : Very strong earthquakes approx. 100 km out of the coast of Elephant Island, an area which is often visited by Antarctica tourist expedition ships.
To read the full story as it happened, we advise our readers to start at the lower part of the page (earthquake data).

Keep this page open or return regularly as we will be back with more details when they become available

Update :  If people were visiting Elephant Island (09:40 is about the time to have shore zodiac excursions), they will have experienced a strong MMI VI shaking.The Antarctic peninsula, with a number of Antarctic stations will have experienced a light shaking.

Update : The earthquake occurred in a very complex tectonic area were 3 different plates are interacting. Todays both earthquakes where more in the direct vicinity of a transform faulting zone. Since 1900, 3 massive 7+ earthquakes occurred in the greater area, 1 along the spreading ridge zone and 2 close to the transform faults.  The scars in the seabed reveal the stress along the transform fault zone (see image below).

Elephant Island - South Shetland Islands - Photo Credit: Lt. Philip Hall/NOAA Corps

Update :  Very strong aftershock of M 6.2. We expect many more aftershocks to happen the following hours and days.

Antarctica cruises Zodiac excursion along Elephant Island - image courtesy

Update : As it is Antarctica summer and thus Tourist season, at least a couple of thousand people may have been walking on one of the many penguin islands of the Antarctic peninsula and may have felt the earthquake. An M 6.6 earthquake will be probably felt within a radius of several hundred km.

Update : We said earlier that these islands are a regular destination stop for Antarctica cruise ships.  This destination is not so common than the Antarctic peninsula locations like Deception Island, but we would not be surprised that tourists were visiting the penguin population on one or more islands.
This text is part of the program of Antarctica expedition organizer Oceanwide Expeditions :
The Atlantic Odyssey offers a unique possibility to visit several of the remotest islands in the world. Besides the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands, the Atlantic Odyssey visits Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Cape Verde.

Update : The magnitude has been lowered by USGS to 6.5, a lot less energy than the initial 6.7. The earthquakes can be compared with the many earthquakes who are occurring at the South Sandwich Islands, islands with similar animals.

The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of 3,687 square kilometres (1,424 sq mi). By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for non-military purposes.
Despite the harsh conditions the islands do support vegetation and are part of the Scotia Sea Islands tundra ecoregion, along with South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and Bouvet Island. All these islands lie in the cold seas below the Antarctic convergence. These areas support tundra vegetation consisting of mosses, lichens and algae, while seabirds, penguins and seals feed in the surrounding waters. (source description : Wikipedia)

Gentoo penguin - image Armand Vervaeck (Earthquake-report)

Very strong earthquake approx. 100 km out of the coast of Elephant Island, an island which is often visited by Antarctica cruiseliners. The island is covered with glaciers.
Elephant Island and the smaller islands around are all crowded with antarctic birds and animals. Various penguin colonies like gentoo and chinstrap, seals, etc are common on these islands.
NO tsunami risk exist for populated islands (there are no people living within a radius of several hundred km). Additionally a M 6.7 earthquake is seldom generating a tsunami.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude :  6.6
UTC Time : Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 13:40:18 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 09:40:18 AM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 10 km
Geo-location(s) :
Approx. 100 km from Elephant island, South Shetland Islands
539 km (334 miles) W of Coronation Island, South Orkney Islands
625 km (388 miles) NE of Palmer Station, Antarctica

Links to important maps
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area
Historic earthquakes map
Shaking map
Focal mechanism report
Human impact map
GDACS earthquake report
GDACS tsunami report

QuakeSOS+ and QuakeSOS free are iPhone applications developed by Armand Vervaeck, the founder of Earthquake Report. The Application simplifies immediate group communication to friends and family members (with your exact GPS location) and is feeding the users with Earthquake Report news. The 0.99 US$ QuakeSOS+ version will support the activities of SOS Earthquakes.

a headlines on twitter
@OnlyQuakeNews : Get all the headlines of our articles + regular updates on ongoing events
@QuakeSOS : news + automatic earthquake notifications of USGS earthquakes of M 4.0 or higher with emphasis to earthquakes in the America's and the Pacific Ocean sphere (4 and up) and a lot of the rest of the world (5 and up). This account was created for our QuakeSOS and QuakeSOS+ iPhone applications
@ShakingEarth : news + automatic earthquake notifications of EMSC earthquakes of M 4.0 or higher with emphasis to earthquakes in European and Asian / Middle East sphere (4 and up) and a lot of the rest of the world (5 and up). This account was originally created to stimulate our Facebook account
@QuakeMaps : news with mapping notifications of ALL earthquakes M 3.0 and higher from all over the world via EMSC and USGS. This account was created for our website

I did feel it – Ik heb het gevoeld – Το έκανα αισθάνεται Yo lo he sentido – 我的确感到了 – 私はそれを感じていました- Ich habe es gefühlt – Bunu hissediyorum yaptı – لم أشعر أنه


  1. Occurred in southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge with 5.1 magnitude in a depth of 16.2 km.