Update: Severe Earthquake Strikes Australia / Correction – New Zealand
Our publisher and editors deeply apologize for the errors in this article. To preserve our journalistic integrity, we have decided not to change one word of Tom Ukinski’s article. However, our team of reporters are working as fast as possible to provide you with the most accurate news and information covering the recent New Zealand earthquake. We expect to provide you with an update shortly, right here on this page.
Thanks for your patience.
Below is the original story done on the earthquake, which incorrectly reported it as occurring in Australia rather than New Zealand. I deeply apologize for this major factual error.
But a wrongheaded article, of course, is of insignificant consequence compared to the devastation that has been inflicted upon the people of New Zealand.
There have been 43 earthquakes between 5:00 a.m. and noon today, as reported by The Dominion Post, centered around the town of Seddon, on the South Island of New Zealand. They have ranged from 2.3 to 5.8 in magnitude. No deaths have been reported as yet. (Fox News) But the earthquakes are expected to continue.
The earthquakes apparently did not prompt a tsunami. The Pacific tsunami warning center has not issued a warning. (NBC World News)
Seddon is approximately 71 kilometers (44 miles) from the capital city of Wellington, separated by the Cook Strait.
A Geonet seismologist said that it is common to get a shock with a magnitude of 4 followed by one closer to 6, as occurred today. A 4.2 quake at 7:04 a.m. was followed by one with a 5.8 magnitude thirteen minutes later. It is also common for a series of quakes to follow every few minutes. In this case the quakes were initially separated by intervals of one to seven minutes. (The Dominion Post)
GeoNet’s website crashed this morning due to the onrush of people wanting to know where the earthquakes had struck.
There have been several earthquakes in a sequence, beginning on Thursday, July 18th with a quake measured at 5.3, followed by a 5.7 quake on Friday, July 20th and a 5.8 on Saturday. These have occurred to the northwest and northeast of the currently afflicted area. In addition, there have been a number of previous smaller shocks in the same area, as well as dozens of aftershocks taking place within two hours of the most recent outburst. (USGS and GeoNet)
Nearby cities and towns affected by shocks include Blenheim, Karori, Wellington, Lower Hutt and Porirua.
Earthquakes are expected to continue near Wellington for some time. (National Business Review) Wellington is a seismically active area. The most recent quakes occurred in an area very close to the subduction interface, which is the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. (The Dominion Post) Subduction is the geologic process in which the edge of one tectonic or crustal plate is forced below the edge of another.
In Wellington there has only been one report of structural damage, and the power is still on. However, a Wellington television reporter said that the most recent quakes felt as bad as the 2011 quake in Christchurch in which 183 people died. (Reuters) Furthermore, OneNews has reported the indefinite suspension of all flights in and out of Wellington Airport, due to concerns about equipment damage.
New Zealand is made up of some 33 islands, the largest being the North and South Islands. The South Island is often referred to as the “mainland,” because it has a 33% larger landmass. The two islands are separated by the Cook Strait. Wellington is on the North Island, Seddon on the South. The distances between the two islands vary, although in some areas they are about 24 km apart. (Wikipedia)
Although the South Island is the larger of the two, the North Island is more populous. The region on the northern island around Wellington has a population of some 400,000 people. Only 23% of New Zealand’s 4.4 million inhabitants live on the South Island
There have been 21 major earthquakes in New Zealand between 1843 and 2013.
In 2010, an earthquake with magnitude of 7.1 occurred in the South Island, centered in the town of Christchurch, 307 kilometers (191 miles) southwest of Wellington. Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city.
In February of 2011, a large aftershock with a magnitude of 6.3 was centered just to the north of Lyttelton, 10 kilometers southeast of Christchurch, at a depth of 5 kilometers. The quake toppled buildings, resulting in the deaths of 185 people.
In June of 2011 Christchurch suffered another quake with a magnitude 5.7. Forty-six people suffered injuries, and one elderly man died after being knocked unconscious. Some buildings were destroyed while others suffered additional damage after being wracked by the February earthquake.
A 7.5 quake occurred in 1848 in Blenheim, a few tens of kilometers to the northwest of the July 21earthquake. The 8.2 quake in Lake Wairarapa in 1855 happened about 80 kilometers to the northeast of the current quakes.
The people of New Zealand have suffered the assaults of earthquakes before, and they will endure this most recent violence, though that does make it easier to bear.
By: Tom Ukinski
(Original Report, without corrections below)
A severe earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 has erupted in an area 20 kilometers east of Seddon.
Seddon is a suburb 7 km west of Melbourne, Australia, with a population of about 4,851 people. It is located in the state of Victoria on the southeast tip of Australia. The shock effects of the quake have been felt as far away as Napier, in Western Australia, 3,302 kilometers (2,066 miles) from Melbourne. This suggests that the path of the quake is along the southern part of Australia.
The intensity of earthquakes is measured by the moment magnitude scale (MMS). Events with magnitudes greater than 4.5 are strong enough to be recorded by a seismograph anywhere in the world.
The death toll for earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.0 to 6.9 can reach 25,000 people. A large number of buildings in populated areas can be destroyed. The damage can be experienced far from the epicenter. (Wikipedia)
The depth of the quake near Seddon, as of 5:09 p.m., was 19km, which is over 11 miles deep.
Earthquakes can occur up to 700 kilometers below the surface.
There is an average of one earthquake per year in Australia with a magnitude of 5 or greater and a depth of 0 to 70 km. (USGS)