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 Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell
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
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
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
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
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.
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