Taranaki’s big shake ‘very unlikely’ to be connected to Levin quakes

A magnitude 4.9 quake struck near New Plymouth on Sunday at 2.35pm.


A magnitude 4.9 quake struck near New Plymouth on Sunday at 2.35pm.

A big shake that rocked New Plymouth is “very unlikely” to be connected to the series of quakes that have hit the lower North Island in the last seven days.

The magnitude 4.9 New Plymouth quake, which caused moderate shaking and was felt by thousands, struck at 2.35pm on Sunday and was 12 kilometres deep.

The quake, centred 35km north of the city, began with a violent jolt before longer waves of shaking that went on for about 15 seconds.

Did you feel the earthquake? Email us at newstips@stuff.co.nz

It was the latest in series of quakes to have rattled the North Island in the last week, but GNS Science seismic duty officer Dr Jonathan Hanson said Sunday’s earthquake was not likely to be connected to those which hit near Levin on Monday and Tuesday.

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“This is a very different fault system to the Levin sequence. It is very unlikely for them to be physically affecting one another,” he said.

Hanson said there had been 12 earthquakes greater than magnitude four in the same area as Sunday’s over the past 100 years.

“They are relatively rare but not unheard of,” he said.

The chances of another earthquake of similar magnitude occurring in the same area were slightly higher following a shake, but the chances were still low.

It was likely smaller earthquakes would follow, but they may not be felt or even locatable by the GeoNet network.

Waitara resident Kate Savage said she thought Sunday’s earthquake was between a four and five-magnitude.

“The frame of the house creaked and glassware rattled but no damage was done,” Savage said.

“We were in the middle of a family dinner and while we all commented and showed interest, we were not concerned.”

Cracks show in the wallpaper Nik Ravelich's Shannon home after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday near Levin.


Cracks show in the wallpaper Nik Ravelich’s Shannon home after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday near Levin.

Sunday’s shake was the latest of a number to have been felt in the North Island since Monday, May 25.

The first struck near Levin and the second came just one day later. The pair of quakes were unusually large for the area, GNS Science said.

The 5.8 magnitude quake 30 kilometres northwest of Levin on Monday morning was followed by a 5.2 magnitude shake in the same location on Tuesday afternoon.

There were 19 “weak” or “light” aftershocks in between.

Hanson said Tuesday’s earthquake came from the same plate pressures which caused Monday’s strong quake.

But more was to come. On Saturday at 10.56pm a 4.7 magnitude earthquake, centred 30km north-west of Levin at a depth of 36km, hit.

Ben Murphy

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt over much of the country, seen here from Waitarere, near Levin.

There were more than 11,000 reports of the quake from people who felt it right around the country from Northland to almost the bottom of the South Island.

Most rated its strength as light or weak.

That quake had been preceded by two others that night. The first quake struck at 7.27pm, it was centred 30km north-west of Levin at a depth of 34km and was recorded as a magnitude of 3.5.

There were 88 reports from people who felt the quake mainly centred around the central North Island area.

The second, which struck at 8.44pm, was centred 20km north-east of Mokau, north Taranaki, at a depth of 20km.

GeoNet received 1121 reports of the quake which was felt as far away as Auckland.

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