The bureau believes the 2.5 magnitude quake is a “natural” one that is a result of “North Korea’s sixth nuclear test”.
The tremor struck Kilju, North Hamgyeong Province, which is only 2.5 kilometres from Punggye-Ri’s testing site.
An official of the Korea Meteorological Administration said: “Kilju is a rocky area where natural earthquakes normally do not occur.
“However, the quake could have been caused by geological changes created from the recent nuclear explosion.“
Local reports claim it is one of at least four tremors that have been felt in the area since a “hydrogen bomb” test on September 3.
The quake occurred at 7.45am local time.
Since 2006, North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests, including two last year.
Recently a number of defectors from the test site region
Experts and observers previously suspected that the last test – which the North claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb – may have damaged the mountainous location in the northwest tip of the country, where all of North Korea’s six nuclear tests were conducted.
Kim So-gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute, said: “The explosion from the Sept. 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in.
“I think the Punggye-ri region is now pretty saturated. If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution.”
September’s nuclear test was so strong that it shook buildings in Russia and China and was described as a “perfect success” by North Korea’s state-run media.
All six of North Korea’s previous nuclear tests have caused earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.3 or above, leading to suggestions that today’s quake may have been natural or caused by the collapse of a tunnel.
And now the latest earthquake to hit the region suggesting the detonations have dramatically destabilised the area.
According to 38 North, a Washington-based web journal which monitors North Korea, numerous landslides throughout the nuclear test site have been detected via satellite images after the sixth test. These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North’s previous tests, 38 North said.
Another issue that could keep North Korea from using Punggye-ri for future nuclear tests the nearby active volcano of Mt. Paektu, Yonsei University’s Hong said.
The 2,744 metre (9,003 ft) mountain, straddling the northwestern border between China and North Korea, last erupted in 1903.