Huge Earthquake Shakes New Zealand's South Island
July 15, 2009
New Zealand Herald
A huge earthquake has rocked parts of the South Island.
People ran from restaurants in Queenstown as buildings shook, and lights and phone lines went down.
Image: The US Geological Survey's earthquake tracker shows the magnitude of the South Island quake.
GNS last night recorded it as a 6.6 magnitude quake off the coast of the west coast of the South Island some 170km from Invercargill. Overseas monitors put the magnitude as high as 7.8.
It was felt across the South Island.
Wanaka resident Simon Darby said a rumbling feeling in the ground forced him to run outside of his house.
"It must have lasted about two and half minutes. I lived in Tokyo for three years so I know what large quakes are like. Even though we are maybe 400km from the epicentre this was easily the longest and biggest I have ever felt.
Image: Earthquake . . . The star marks the quake's location.
"It wasn't very violent, more of a rolling feel. But it had a power about it - I ran straight outside into the carpark."
There are between 10,000 and 15,000 earthquakes in and around New Zealand each year. Most are small, but between 100 and 150 are big enough to be felt, according to GNS Science.
The biggest known quake in New Zealand was the magnitude 8.2 Wairarapa earthquake of 1855.
The biggest New Zealand earthquake since instrumental recording began was the 1931 magnitude 7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake.