New Zealand Earthquake 1/20

Very strong moderately dangerous below the North Island, New Zealand (Palmerston area) – minor damage

Last update: January 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm by By

This report has also been compiled with the help of Ovidiu Pop

Update 04:29 UTC : Plate Tectonics at the North Island
Along the east side of New Zealand’s North Island the oceanic Pacific tectonic plate subducts westward at 4-5 cm/yr
More than a dozen slow slip events (also known as “silent” earthquakes) have been recorded in New Zealand between 2002 and 2012. Scientists have only been able to detect them recently due to the advent of global positioning system (GPS) equipment which can detect sub-centimetre changes in land movements. As part of the GeoNet project in New Zealand, continuously operating GPS have been installed throughout the country. The GeoNet cGPS data show that these silent earthquakes occurring deep under New Zealand are changing the shape of parts of the North Island over time periods of weeks to years. Read the full article here
A similar event than today occurred in 1990. The scientific in-depth report of this earthquake can be consulted here.
Based on our historic map below (major earthquakes since 1900) a M6.8 at a depth of 12 km! occurred close to today’s epicenter in 1917

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 05.27.55

Update 04:16 UTC : There are NO reports of injuries so far. Minor (hopefully insured) damage like cracks is reported from many locations.
The video below was recorded at a dog race. The camera shows the strong shaking at Sky Racing.

Update 04:04 UTC : Geonet has reviewed the hypocenter a second time and now reports a depth of 33 km.
More pictures of the mainly minor damage here.

Update 03:54 UTC : The picture below shows the strenth of the shaking in Masterton. Picture from Karen Monks via Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 04.52.05

Update 03:48 UTC : There are reports of rockfall in the Manawatau Gorge. TranzMetro has suspended all train services in the capital and is replacing them with buses.

Update 03:36 UTC : The earthquake occurred in a sparsely populated area of the North Island. The reports of people living closest to the epicenter are confirming our expectations. These people are reporting strong shaking but NO damage.

Update 03:32 UTC : The many aftershocks are now visible on the seismogram below

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 04.32.16

Update 03:25 UTC : the earthquake has been felt all over the North Island and the South Island. Geonet has now updated the depth to 50 km  (from 65 earlier). We maintain our expectation that minor damage is still possible but that there will be no fatalities or seriously injured people. This is confirmed by the many Experience Reports who have reached Geonet (see below).

Image courtesy and copyright Geonet New Zealand

Image courtesy and copyright Geonet New Zealand

Update 03:20 UTC : Continuous aftershocks are reported by Geonet

Update 03:15 UTC : Geonet has a preliminary depth of 65 km. Other seismological agencies mostly report shallower depths. If the Geonet depth will be the final one, we expect at least some minor (insured) damage in an area of approx. 30 km from the epicenter. We do however not expect fatalities.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 04.13.16

10 km north-west of Castlepoint (Geonet)
38km (24mi) NNE of Masterton, New Zealand (USGS)
39km (24mi) SSE of Palmerston North, New Zealand (USGS)
49km (30mi) E of Levin, New Zealand (USGS)
77km (48mi) ENE of Paraparaumu, New Zealand (USGS)
115km (71mi) NE of Wellington, New Zealand (USGS)

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 6.3

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2014-01-20 15:52:45

GMT/UTC Time : 2014-01-20 02:52:45



Dangerous Quake – New Zealand

Very Strong shallow earthquake / aftershock near Seddon, South Island, New Zealand – Wellington shaken also

Last update: August 16, 2013 at 7:10 am by By

Update 07:10 UTC : Nothing really new since our 06:08 update. The NZ press is mainly zooming in to small stories of the panic and the secondary effects like heavy traffic, experience reports of minor damage etc. All the aftershocks of M2.9 or greater will be listed below.

Update 06:08 UTC : One building south of Seddon nearly collapsed by the mainshock. Some others in Marlborough region were also severly damaged, while the damage on North Island (Wellington region) is only minor.

Update 06:01 UTC : GeoNet has changed the data to Magnitude 6.0. USGS and EMSC give Magnitude 5.9 (USGS expecting a heavy intensity again). The epicenter location is again close to Seddon, the quake was felt in many parts of New Zealand. New damage is likely.
In the meantime buildings in Seddon were ckcked for damage by the mainshock. Many of the buildings were damaged, mainly fallen chimneys and cracked walls and roofs are reported. No building collapsed, nobody was injured.

Update 05:38 UTC : Another very strong quake with Magnitude 6.3 hit this are a couple of minutes ago, according to GeoNet. These data are still prelimimary.

Update 05:28 UTC : Two injured people were carried to a hospital in Blenheim. There are not many details about the kind of injuries but reports indicate they are only minor.

Update 04:43 UTC : Taken into account the strong Magnitude and the extremely shallow Hypocenter,  we are happy that no injuries and even fatalities have been reported. Also the damage is within an acceptable range as no houses really collapsed. The slight to moderate damage will however be reported in big numbers. The most reports will come from Seddon, followed by Blenheim and then by Wellington.

Update 04:32 UTC : GNS Science has recalculated the data and is now reporting an updated value of M6.6 !

Update 04:32 UTC : NZ Media are starting to exaggerate : Monster Quake hit … We can truly say that this was a big quake but not a monster quake. Based on security camera images we saw some moderate shaking in Wellington.

Update 04:25 UTC : The biggest damage should be looked at in the Seddon area. Gradually Seddon information and pictures are reaching us, like the one below from Seddon. Unsafe to live in, it will probably get a RED STICKER on the door from the NZQC after inspection.

Twitter image courtesy and copyright from @breakfastsam

Twitter image courtesy and copyright from @breakfastsam

Update 04:15 UTC : A house has been badly damaged in Ward, south of Seddon + some power lines down in the Seddon area

Update 04:06 UTC : SH 1 currently closed between Blenheim and Kaikoura. Check NZTA website for latest highway conditions:

Update 04:02 UTC : A number of people have been freed from lifts in the Wellington CBD which stopped when the quake struck.

Update 04:00 UTC : Earlier reports of a collapsed house in between Blenheim and Seddon looked to be incorrect. So far only a lot of slight damage in the Marlborough area (Seddon, Blenheim etc) and also in the Wellington area.

Typical picture after such an earthquake. A supermarket in Wellington !

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 05.54.01

Twitter image courtesy and copyright @LivLacey

Update 03:52 UTC : The NZ Stock Exchange has been reopened again

Update 03:46 UTC : Damage like the picture below will occur in many places. The NZ Earthquake Commission will have a lot of work the following days to follow up the many filed damage reports.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 05.46.10

Twitter image courtesy and copyright @menabassily NZ

Update 03:44 UTC :  The NZ stock exchange has stopped trading. About 600 customers are reportedly without power in Makara, Wrights Hill and Wainuiomata following the quake

Update 03:44 UTC : The earthquake has been felt all over both islands. Power is still on the Wellington CBD (Central Business District) and traffic is flowing normally, however some power lines are reported to be down and there are problems with some phones.
Tranzmetro has suspended all its rail and bus services in Wellington and Wellington Airport advises the runway is temporarily closed for inspection following the quake.

Update 03:42 UTC : Focal Mechanism in line with the earlier Cook Strait M6.5 earthquake if based on USGS FM

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 05.40.31

Update 03:38 UTC : South of Blenheim, towards Seddon, roads are partially blocked by rockfalls and are cracked in some areas.

Update 03:34 UTC : Luckily only reports of what we call “minor damage” in the New Zealand press so far. Minor damage is like broken windows, cracks in walls, fallen tiles etc.

Update 03:31 UTC : What strikes us in the New Zealand press is that all of them are talking about a “Wellington” earthquake and not about a Seddon earthquake . The distance to Wellington is far greater than to Seddon.

Update 03:27 UTC : We expect most damage in the whole North Eastern part of the South Island with some slight damage even at the south of the North Island. Seddon, only located at 10 km of the epicenter is most at risk for damage followed by Blenheim.

Update 03:22 UTC : Based on what we experienced with the M6.5 mainshock a little while ago a chain of aftershocks in the same area may be expected.

Update 03:20 UTC : A lot of different data below like USGS who reports a M6.8 at a depth of 10.6 km. We prefer however tu use the Geonet / GNS science data who are reporting M6.2 at a depth of 8 km. Even more a difference in epicenter location. The preliminary USGS value is putting the epicenter more below land vs the Geonet versions who is locating the epicenter also below land but close to the coast.

Update 03:18 UTC : these aftershocks will go on for quiet some time ane very strong ones are being possible.

Update : The seismogram below reveals a long chain of powerful aftershocks, some of them more than M5.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 05.09.35

Very dangerous aftershock below land in New Zealand. Epicenter is very different with each reporting agency. Geonet New Zealand is locating the epicenter at the land-tip of the South Island. The earlier mainshock and most of the aftershocks were located in the sea.

Image courtesy Geonet New Zealand

Image courtesy Geonet New Zealand

10 km south-east of Seddon

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 6.2

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2013-08-16 14:31:05

GMT/UTC Time : 2013-08-16 02:31:05

Depth (Hypocenter)  : 8 km


earthquake off New Zealand

Very Strong deep earthquake off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand

Last update: February 16, 2013 at 10:43 am by By

Update 06:25 UTC : Below Geonet’s intensity map. On the exception of 7 people, the vast majority experienced a weak shaking (also on the South Island). The South Island intensities can be explained by the depth of the hypocenter.

Earthquake New Zealand February 16 2013

Update 06:20 UTC : The greater epicenter area is seismically very active as one can see on the lower map.  The epicenter is located on top of the subducted plate.

Update 06:01 UTC : The epicenter was at a +200 km out of the coast which makes that the shaking on land was limited to weak or even very weak shaking

A very strong earthquake occurred off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The hypocenter was very deep in the hot solid mantle of the earth.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 07.01.36

219km (136mi) ENE of Tairua, New Zealand
223km (139mi) NNE of Whakatane, New Zealand
240km (149mi) NE of Tauranga, New Zealand
274km (170mi) NE of Rotorua, New Zealand
639km (397mi) NNE of Wellington, New Zealand

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 6.3

Local Time (conversion only below land) : Unknown

GMT/UTC Time : 2013-02-16 05:16:09


New Zealand Mt. Tongariro Erupts

New Zealand Volcano Erupts, At Risk for More

Eli MacKinnon, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
Date: 21 November 2012
A view of Mount Tongariro just after it erupted on Wednesday (Nov. 21).
A view of Mount Tongariro just after it erupted on Wednesday (Nov. 21).
CREDIT: Via | Lomi Schaumkel/Tamatea Intermediate School

New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro volcano erupted for the second time this year on Wednesday (Nov. 21), sending a plume of ash 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) skyward and raising the odds that another eruption is imminent.

Tongariro, one of three active volcanoes that stand over Tongariro National Park in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, lay dormant for more than a century before blowing open its Te Maari crater in August.

That eruption was augured by an increase in seismic activity, but Wednesday’s eruption came without any warning, said volcanologist Tony Hurst, who spoke to Radio New Zealand.

A view of Mount Tongariro just after it erupted on Wednesday (Nov. 21).
A view of Mount Tongariro just after it erupted on Wednesday (Nov. 21).
CREDIT: Via | Lomi Schaumkel/Tamatea Intermediate School

New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro volcano erupted for the second time this year on Wednesday (Nov. 21), sending a plume of ash 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) skyward and raising the odds that another eruption is imminent.

Tongariro, one of three active volcanoes that stand over Tongariro National Park in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, lay dormant for more than a century before blowing open its Te Maari crater in August.

That eruption was augured by an increase in seismic activity, but Wednesday’s eruption came without any warning, said volcanologist Tony Hurst, who spoke to Radio New Zealand.

There were hikers in the area at the time of the eruption, including a group of schoolchildren, but no injuries have been reported. Hurst said the eruption was relatively non-threatening because it didn’t eject many rocks, suggesting it may have originated from the same vent that had been mostly cleared out by the August eruption, which rained rocks on a hiker’s shelter a mile (1.5 km) away from the crater.

Middle school teacher Paul Lowes was hiking on Tongariro with his class when Wednesday’s 5-minute eruption began, at about 1:25 p.m. local time.

“We were sitting there celebrating with the kids, the achievement of them getting up there, and next thing, one of them pointed out, ‘Look what’s happening.’ I turned around and there [the volcano] was, just starting to blow,” Lowes told “We stopped in a bit of awe of it to start with, and didn’t realize what was actually happening. And as it was getting bigger, then it was sort of, ‘Right-o, it’s time to move everyone out of here.'”

Scientists had no reason to expect the eruption, but one no-warning eruption serves as a warning for the next. That’s because, historically, the Te Maari crater has had a tendency to break a silence and keep talking.

“In 1892 and 1896, it sort of had eruptive periods that went on for months with a number of different events,” Hurst told Radio New Zealand. “Having [now had] two events, it could well have more than two in this sequence. There’s an enhanced risk at the moment, certainly.”

But Tongariro is not the only potential loose cannon in the park right now. Last week, GNS Science, an official monitoring body in New Zealand and Hurst’s employer, issued a warning that Mount Ruapehu, a neighboring volcano, is showing signs that it may erupt in the coming weeks or months.

Tongariro National Park served as the backdrop of numerous scenes in the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, standing in for the fictional land of Mordor.

The park’s third active volcano, Mount Nguaruhoe, featured as the movies’ Mount Doom in long shots. That volcano last erupted in 1975.


Submarine Eruption — New Zealand

Submarine Eruption Makes it Three for New Zealand

Aerial view by the New Zealand Navy of a pumice raft spotted near Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands on August 10, 2012. Image from the New Zealand Herald.

Just think, one week ago I was saying that 2012 was a relatively quiet year for volcanic eruptions. We haven’t made up all the ground of the more active years like 2010-11, however New Zealand had one of its more exciting volcanic weeks in a century – White Island and Tongariro both had eruptions and yesterday a large pumice raft was spotted north of the island nation. This pumice raft (see above) is the product of a submarine volcanic eruption from one of the multiple of seamounts that are part of Kermadec arc north of New Zealand. Exactly which volcano is the source of the pumice is unclear – early on, it was suggested that Monowai was the source, but that seems to be in some question based on the location of the 26,000 square kilometer pumice raft (see below). The raft is located to the northeast of Raoul Island, one of the active volcanoes of the Kermadec Islands that is above the sea surface. The next known active volcano to the northeast of Raoul is Monowai, thus the suspicion that it may be the source. Likely the only way this actual source will be identified is through matching the composition of this pumice with that of known material from Monowai (or another Kermadec volcano). Rafts like this can travel great distances – some of the pumice rafts from the Krakatau eruption in 1886 washed up on African beaches months later – so trying to determine the exact source of the pumice when it is so widespread is challenging. However, this is likely a significant eruption based on the size of the pumice raft across the ocean surface. Monowai does seem reasonable, though, as it has produced significant eruptions in the last few years.


A raw Aqua/MODIS image of the pumice raft off Raoul Island in the Kermadecs, seen on August 10, 2012. Image courtesy of NASA.

Much like I said yesterday, none of these eruptions are directly connected – Tongariro, White Island and this submarine eruption in the Kermadecs are too far apart to be sharing any magmatism. However, the tectonics that control the formation of volcanoes are all the same – the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Australian Plate.


8/9 New Zealand Eruptions — White Island & Tongariro

New Zealand Eruption Update for August 9, 2012: White Island and Tongariro

Steam seen on August 8, 2012 from one of the sources of the August 6 eruption of Tongariro in New Zealand. Image from OneNews.

The hits just keep on coming this week in New Zealand. We’re seen eruptions from both Tongariro and White Island this week – and White Island seems to be picking up the pace. Last night, reports of volcanic lightning from White Island abounded along the Bay of Plenty and a 300 meter eruptive plume was confirmed for the volcano, meaning. Ash fall was also reported at Papamoa, on the coast near Tauranga, the first ash produced from White Island since 2001. To my knowledge, tours of White Island have not been officially banned yet – even the wording of the GNS Science report suggests that tours are still going on: “GNS advises visitors to take a high level of caution.” This is fascinating because as Eruptions reader Claude G. pointed out, the New Zealand government quickly closed access to the Tongariro area after its eruption on Monday, but the same ban has not been produced for the more-vigourously active White Island. My post from Monday that was lost in tall the eruptive excitement gets into some of the issues of these tours to active volcanoes like White Island. The volcano is still at alert level 2 and aviation alert orange according to the latest GNS Science update.


Meanwhile, more of the results (video) of the Tongariro eruption have become apparent. At least three blast craters were formed along with a fissure on the volcano during the eruption and the volcanic tephra produced a small debris flow that travelled a few kilometers from the crater (like caused by a breached lake at the Te Mari crater and/or mixing with snow on the volcano). The GNS Science overflight also captured some cool images of impact craters from the bombs thrown from the vent area. Things have settled down at Tongariro, with only low levels of seismicity under the volcano, but new video footage of the Te Mari crater area shows the vigorous steaming (see above) around the area of the eruption. Be sure to check out the great gallery of images from Tongariro on the GNS Science Flickr stream. Some early analyses of the Tongariro ash show that is was somewhat fluorine rich – an issue especially important for agricultural interests near the volcano. However, this eruption didn’t produce sufficient volume of ash for the fluorine to be problematic, but a larger, sustained eruption might change that. I did find it frustrating how some media made it seem like fluorine in the ash was both surprising and dangerous. This isn’t really the case as almost all volcanic ash as some fluorine. More interestingly, these early ash analyses suggest that little to no juvenile (new magma) material present. Speaking of the ash plume, the NASA Earth Observatory posted a great night image of the plume from the eruption showing it stretching eastward across the North Island. GNS Science has left Tongariro at alert level 2/aviation alert yellow.

Now, one question that I’ve seen asked in a number of places is “are these eruptions related?”. The answer is yes and no. Yes, White Island and Tongariro are both part of the same volcanic arc, where the Pacific Plate is being subducted under the Australian Plate. This means that the processes that generate the primary magmas that feed the volcanoes are the same – as they are for all the volcanoes of New Zealand. However, White Island and Tongariro are geographically separated by over 220 km, so, no, their respective eruption did not cause/prompt the other. Instead, we’re just seeing another example of the random distribution of volcanic activity that produced a beguiling but ultimately false correlation. Now, if Tongariro erupted in quick succession with Ruapehu, only ~17 km away, then there could be more argument for a shared cause (think something like the Katmai eruption in Alaska in 1912). However, White Island and Tongariro are just too far apart to be directly connected in their magmatic systems.


Activity at Tongariro Volcano (New Zealand)

Possible Eruption Reported at New Zealand’s Tongariro

The webicorder trace for Tongariro in New Zealand showing a potential explosion (near bottom) at the volcano. Image courtesy of GNS Science.

I just saw this come across Twitter but there are reports of ash fall near Tongariro in New Zealand (apparently upwards of 5 cm[!] on state highway 46, north of the volcano) along with an unconfirmed report of “red/orange glow” from the Te Mari Crater. The Desert Road near Tongariro has also now been closed, which suggests an eruption (or hydrothermal explosion) has occurred and rescue teams are headed up to hikers’ huts to make sure no one is trapped near the volcano. GNS Science has raised the alert status to Level 2 after these reports. I’m trying to find some more information so we can confirm this, but the webicorders for Tongariro show what could be an explosion signal (see above). Sadly, there isn’t much of a view in the webcam for the volcano.

Tongariro has been rumbling for the past few weeks, with a sharp increase in seismicity along with a higher proportion of volcanic gases measured at the crater. Interestingly, a news report came out last night saying that the seismicity at Tongariro had recently decreased in size and number.

I will update this post as I get more information – and you can leave what you find in the comments below.

UPDATE 8/6 10:15 AM EDT: The New Zealand Civil Defense is warning people stay indoors and keep doors/windows shut for the time being.


White Island Volcano, New Zealand Activity

White Island volcano, New Zealand aviation code changed to Yellow

Last update: August 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm by By

Crater Lake at White Island has recently started to re-fill and gases are now vigorously streaming through it. Airborne gas measurements made yesterday show that the discharge of some sulphur gases has increased. During the past few weeks there has also been some minor volcanic tremor.
During 2011 and early 2012 White Island Crater Lake slowly evaporated to expose steam vents and form two large muddy pools. However, sometime between Friday July 27 and Saturday July 28, the lake level rose quickly by about 3 m to 5 m. Vigorous flow of gas and steam through the new lake can be seen from the air. Two photos at the end of this bulletin, taken from a similar position, clearly show the change in water level.

The lake has been inaccessible for many months and we have not been able to measure changes in its temperature or chemistry. Sulphur gases measured yesterday in the steam and gas plume have increased during the last three months but CO2 gas output remains at about the same level.
Since early July there have been intermittent periods of volcanic tremor, including several hours early on Saturday July 28 and during Monday and Tuesday this week. Tremor is not uncommon at White Island but earlier this year it had been at very low levels.
A recent ground survey showed that the main crater floor is no longer subsiding and now may be slowly rising.
These phenomena are typical for White Island’s activity, but are the first substantial changes to occur in the last few years.
White Island is an active volcano and there is always risk when visiting the island. Eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning. The recent changes in activity suggest that the hydrothermal system has become unstable, and as a result the risk has increased. We advise extra caution should be taken, especially if approaching the Crater Lake and other active thermal features.
GNS Science volcanologists are monitoring the activity and further information will be released as soon as it is available.
The increased activity at White Island has no connection with the recent earthquakes and changes in gas flux at Tongariro volcano.
Alert Level remains at 1; Aviation Colour Code changed to Yellow
Image and text courtesy GEONET New Zealand and GNS Science


New Zealand Earthquake and MORE

1/28/2012 — 6.2 magnitude earthquake in New Zealand — MASSIVE amount of 5.0M quakes this past week

Posted on January 28, 2012

watch the video update here:





January 28, 2012 — North of New Zealand a magnitude 6.2 earthquake occurred:




6.1 Quake off New Zealand

1/19/2012 — 6.1 magnitude earthquake hits New Zealand

Posted on January 19, 2012

Today, January 19, 2012 — a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck about 120 miles south of New Zealand.

The entire south/west pacific plate has been moving exponentially faster over the past few months — things are picking up — not letting off.

Look at the screenshot below — showing the last 48 hours of earthquakes around the Pacific ring of fire.

Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Magnitude 6.1
Location 46.676°S, 165.724°E
Depth 18.1 km (11.2 miles)
Distances 204 km (126 miles) W of Invercargill, New Zealand
293 km (182 miles) SW of Queenstown, New Zealand
380 km (236 miles) WSW of Dunedin, New Zealand
940 km (584 miles) SW of WELLINGTON, New Zealand