Another Quake Rocks Christchurch New Zealand

On the heels of a major earthquake that rocked near Christchurch New Zealand on September 4, 2010 (magnitude 7.1), another major earthquake, this time a magnitude 6.3 struck the city of 350,000 during Tuesday afternoon 12:51PM local time February 22, 2011, and was followed by several large earthquakes of magnitude 5.6 and 5.5.

Today’s New Zealand earthquake, based on it’s close proximity to Christchurch compared to last years quake, coupled with the fact that today’s quake was very shallow (4 km) compared to last September’s quake (10 km), will surely result in more widespread damage.

Of high concern was the timing of the earthquake, during the height of a busy workday.

The September quake was located about 35 km from Christchurch while today’s quake was just 10 km from the city center, quite near Lyttleton, a coastal community.


From the New Zealand Herald,, Prime Minister John Key tells TV3, the authorities will be working through the night to try to free those people still trapped under rubble. Speaking from Christchurch after flying down this afternoon, Mr Key told One News it was likely the quake would prove to be New Zealand’s “darkest day”.

Phone lines are down so it’s difficult to get information, but Herald reporter Jarrod Booker said in a brief phone call that they were experiencing a massive earthquake, “bigger than the original”. He sounded very shaken.

The earthquake was felt as far north as Wellington and as far south as Queenstown.

Witness reports from Facebook:
“bloody awful here nr Sheffield – house rolled up and down and shook violently for a good 10 secons or more – husband in town has no power – i am a shaking wreck.”

“Yes my house is a mess, feel bigger that the big one, way bigger”

“Felt huge. Everything smashed, furniture upturned. Very scary”

“Massive destruction I’m the inner city”

The TVNZ building in Christchurch had collapsed, a source, who described the quake as “massive”, told NZPA.

A TV3 reporter said the Pyne Gould building in Cambridge Tce had collapsed.

“Multiple fatalities have been reported at several locations in the central city, including two buses crushed by falling buildings.

TV3 is reporting up to 200 people may be inside the Pyne Gould Guinness building on Cambridge Tce and screams can be heard from inside.

Photograph: AP

As of 7PM local time, the reports, “65 people are confirmed dead and more deaths are expected as rescuers comb through the rubble in Christchurch’s centre after a 6.3 magnitude shock hit the city during lunch-hour.”

Photos: BBC



Christchurch, New Zealand, Earthquake Sequence

6 days prior – 6.3 earthquake and aftershocks – day after
Each image credit of the sequence:

base map credit:

More Christchurch New Zealand Earthquake Pictures
Christchurch earthquake: Aerial photos

Map showing scale of shallow earthquake in Christchurch, only 5km deep

The Christchurch earthquake (September 2010, and this new February 2011 quake) has been determined to be on a newly discovered fault. One wonders how many undiscovered faults there are in the world…

From The Independent:
“It’s not a new fault in the sense that it has only just been created but it is a new fault that has only just been discovered,” Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazards and archives at the British Geological Society, told The Independent. “Some fault lines are very easy to see but the one under Christchurch is covered by sediment and would have been invisible without thorough geophysical searches.”

A video explanation and illustration of the regional New Zealand tectonics and earthquakes, and why the Christchurch earthquake caused so much damage.
Christchurch New Zealand Tectonics and Quakes

Update, 27-Feb-2011, Prime Minister John Key said “This may be New Zealand’s single-most tragic event”, while the current official death toll puts the number of quake victims at 146. More than 200 people remain missing and hope is dwindling 6 days after the quake. The last survivor was pulled from the ruins during Wednesday.

During 1931, the Napier earthquake on the North Island claimed the lives of 256 people. The Christchurch earthquake is expected to surpass that disaster.

Apparently up to a third of the buildings will need to be demolished and rebuilt in the city’s central area as evidenced in the following dramatic image of dust rising from the city during the earthquake.

From GNS Science, New Zealand,
The underlying geology of Canterbury was the western end of the Chatham Rise which was broken with many east-west trending faults. Many geologists believed that modern-day tectonic plate motions in the South Island had reawakened some of these very old faults, causing them to fail.

Both the September earthquake and last week’s deadly tremor occurred on faultlines that did not exist on GNS Science’s database…further “blind” faults could lie under Christchurch’s soil, and priority should be placed on creating an ultrasound-like image of the city’s subsurface.
The rest of the story: Christchurch earthquake: Map faults before rebuild: geologist

Current, real-time earthquake seismograph drums near Christchurch, Canterbury region
(from GNS,

Update, 13-June-2011
It just won’t stop… several very strong earthquakes struck Christchurch yet again. A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck during June 13, just southeast of Christchurch, and just 80 minutes later a strong magnitude 6.0 quake jolted Christchurch yet again. 20 minutes after that, a magnitude 4.6 quake shook just offshore of Christchurch.

There has been lots of shaking going on in the world. Time to consider building an earthquake emergency kit including extra food and water, something that everyone should do who is living in or near earthquake country (which is more of the world than you may think).


Update, December 23, 2011
Christchurch New Zealand Quaking Again


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