Vanuatu has had 7 earthquakes in the past month, and 282 earthquakes in the past year, according to quaketrack.com. Image Credit: Google maps

SYDNEY: A powerful earthquake hit the two Pacific island nations early on Friday,  raising a warning of local threat of tsunami from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre on Vanuatu.

A magnitude 7.6 quake hit the southeast of Vanuatu, according to the US Geological Survey, while a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of New Caledonia Friday in the tectonically active Pacific region.

The centre warned of a tsunami in Vanuatu. There was no tsunami threat in New Caledonia.

The earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 struck about 535 km (330 miles) southeast of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for areas close to the quake, although there was no Pacific-wide threat of a tsunami, the Hawaii-based centre said.

The shallow quake was measured at a depth of about 10 km (6 miles), some 109 kilometres east of Ile Hunter in New Caledonia at 0126 GMT.

"Earthquakes are not unusual in that particular region and as far as I'm aware, the recent activity there has not been unusual," Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Phil Cummins told AFP.

"It potentially might have been felt on some of the islands in Vanuatu or New Caledonia, but I doubt it would been enough to cause any damage there due to shaking."

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