updated 1/21/2007 7:52:43 AM ET 2007-01-21T12:52:43

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Sunday about in the Molucca Sea about 100 miles east of Sulawesi Island in northeastern Indonesia, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was large enough to cause a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement, but no tsunami warning was immediately issued.

The epicenter of the major quake was about 80 miles from the city of Ternate, in north eastern Indonesia, it said. It had a depth of more than six miles below the ocean floor.

An official with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii told The Associated Press that a basin-wide tsunami — one that travels a great distance or across an ocean — isn’t expected, though a tsunami near the earthquake’s site is “always possible.”

“Given the size of the earthquake, we think a basin-wide tsunami isn’t likely, though a local tsunami could be possible,” said Brian Shiro, a geophysicist at the tsunami center.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 lives — 131,000 people in Indonesia’s Aceh province alone.

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