A local tsunami alert was issued shortly after a magnitude 7.1 temblor struck at 3:55 a.m. local time. But the advisory was later lifted after no significant changes in sea level were detected.
The initial jolt was followed by several aftershocks, including one that registered a magnitude of 7.0 just under an hour and a half later.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office said there was some damage in the southern part of the country, as well as areas surrounding the capital, Port-Vila.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the initial quake struck about 40 miles south-southwest of Port Villa at a depth of about 11,000 feet beneath the Coral Sea.
Vanuatu is prone to frequent earthquakes and occasional tsunamis.
A 7.2 magnitude quake four years ago cracked buildings, streets and a bridge on the island of Espiritu Santo. A weaker quake in June 2009 injured four people and damaged a water supply system.