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Strong, shallow 6.2 earthquake rocks South Island

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 9:33am
GeoNet map showing the epicentre and intensity contours from the earthquake this morning near Methven.
GeoNet map showing the epicentre and intensity contours from the earthquake this morning near Methven.

Strong, shallow 6.2 earthquake rocks South Island

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 9:33am

A strong, shallow earthquake has struck the South Island this morning. Initially reported as magnitude 5.8, it has now been revised to 6.2 magnitude.

The earthquake occurred at 9.14am and was centred 45km north of Geraldine and just 10km deep, GeoNet says.

It’s the strongest earthquake to hit New Zealand this year.

There were more than 14,000 reports on Geonet of people feeling it, the majority across the South Island and some in the North Island.

It was described as a long, rumbling quake and didn’t cause any violent jolts.

A magnitude 3.4 aftershock caused weak shaking at 9.25am.

The main earthquake was the first decent shake to be felt in Canterbury – a region devastated by the 2010-11 earthquake sequence – for some time.

The magnitude 6.3 quake of February 22, 2011 killed 185 people and caused widespread damage to Christchurch’s CBD and many suburbs.

‘Really strong’ shaking, no reports of damage

Andy Somerton, owner of the Fairlie Bakehouse told the Herald he felt at least thirty seconds of shaking and considered diving under furniture.

”We were making that call in our mind, whether we needed to get down or not,” he said.

”We felt it and our first thought was ‘ah, please tell me that’s not Christchurch again”.

The shaking was “really strong”, the bakehouse owner said and he feared damage had been done to his store.

A quick inspection showed his shop was fine.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said he had spoken to Geraldine’s Chief Fire Officer who said there were no reports of damage in the area at this point. He was yet to speak to the other brigades in the area to confirm everything is OK.

Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen. Photo / Waka KotahiTimaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen. Photo / Waka Kotahi

Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen was sitting down when the earthquake struck.

”I sort of looked out the window for some major machinery but it had a good little rumble to it, only for about 10 seconds but yeah you certainly noticed it.”

He had a message for concerned residents.

“I think the key thing if you’re concerned about earthquakes and if there is to be more just go to the appropriate channels to find the information, go to the reputable news channels and find out what’s going on and Geonet and such.”

Strongest quake this year

At magnitude 6.2, the event is the strongest earthquake recorded in New Zealand this year.

Other large quakes this year have included a magnitude 5.6 event, north of French Pass, on August 11, a 6.0 event near Paraparumu that struck amid the Cyclone Gabrielle disaster on February 15, and a 5.9 event near Pōrangahau on April 26.

Earlier in the year Canterbury was rocked by earthquakes measuring between 4.4 and 4.7. The quakes, in March and April, were the largest in the region in 2023 before today’s event.

The quake also follows some notable spates this year recorded around Kawerau, Te Aroha and Pōrangahau - and there have been nine in total measuring above 5.0.

But that didn’t mean there’d been more activity than usual this year.

The 10,957 quakes recorded over 2023′s first six months was relatively close to average, given our seismometers normally register around 20,000 in a year.

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