A swarm of earthquakes hit central New Zealand today, including a large 5.8 event this morning and a 6.5 one at around 5:00 pm local time that was centered about 35 miles south-southwest of Wellington centered in the narrow Cook Strait between the northern and southern islands of New Zealand.
The majority of the other, earlier, quakes were centered in the same area off Seddon in Marlborough that was hit on Friday by a 5.7.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) originally said the biggest of the quakes had registered 6.9 but later revised that figure.
The area around Wellington, the capital, is home to about 400,000 people. The small town of Seddon was just east of the epicenter on the southern island.
The first quake of the morning was a 4.2 one that occurred at a depth of 10 km and centered 35 km east of Seddon.
Just 13 minutes later, it was followed by a 5.8 earthquake that was centered 30 km east of Seddon at a depth of 19 km and then at 7.20 by a 4.3 km shake at a depth of 14 km and 25 km east of Seddon, while a fourth quake, registering 4.3, rattled the region from a depth of 22 km at 7.30 am.
So far this morning, there have been a total of more than 30 quakes in approximately the same area. The latest two were a 4.5 magnitude aftershock followed by a 5.1.
According to Geonet duty seismologist Dr Anna Kaiser, it’s expected they would continue.
It’s quite common to get a shock reaching about four (on the richter scale) before a larger one, like we had before the 5.8 this morning.
“It’s also normal to get a series of threes and fours afterwards and about every two minutes or so is common.”
GeoNet’s website crashed this morning due to a high demand from people wanting to see where the quakes have struck.
Wellington is a highly seismic active area and everyone should always be prepared, she said.
These quakes this morning are very close to the subduction interface, which is the boundary between the Pacific and Australian plate.”
All of the aftershocks have been centered in the same region and have ranged from 2.5 to 4.1. Geonet initially reported quakes in other areas in both islands, but it now appears they were erroneous recordings sparked by the other quakes.
Though there are no reports of damage yet, but Tranz Metro has advised all its services in Wellington have been delayed.
Neither police nor fire received any emergency calls.
According to the reactions of two people, Rosa Williams and Shiree Palmer on Facebook, the earthquakes today are bigger and stronger than Friday’s.
Erika Scott said on Facebook:
This was more a series of shakes and rolls for me and I feel safer than being in the city.”
According to a Blenheim man, the biggest of the quakes was like a strong jolt followed by a rolling motion for about 15 seconds.
Winemaker Peter Yealands stated that there appeared to be no damage at his Seddon winery.
He was having breakfast at his Seaview home near Seddon when the quake hit, he said.
It went on for about a minute, it was quite unnerving.”
He said that there did not appear to be any damage to the winery, although some wine had sloshed out of the tanks on to the floor.
Gary Spence, the Marlborough Civil Defense emergency services officer, said there had been no reports of damage, following the quakes.
I’ve talked to the sector manager from Seddon and it sounds like it was pretty much like Friday, a few things off the shelves in the supermarket, but no injury and no severe damage.”
According to the US Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner in a tweet, the quake was felt as a “meaningful jolt and roll” in Lower Hutt.
Residents in Khandallah, Wellington, were woken by a sharp jolt, but said it didn’t feel as strong as Friday’s.
According to one of the women from Khandallah:
We felt a single big heave and then there was just a light rumble for about 15 seconds It wasn’t big enough to get us out of bed.”
Another Wellingtonian said:
“it made me get out of bed and crouch beside it and my husband walked through from the kitchen and joined me pointlessly huddled, so it must have last at least 15 seconds.”
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck between New Zealand’s main islands on Sunday, but initial reports indicated damage was light.
The swarm of earthquakes which has rocked New Zealand are a frightening reminder of the potential dangers the residents of Seddon, New Zealand face from earthquakes.
Written by: Douglas Cobb