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Large Pacific Quake Felt In New Zealand

20 August 2002

Large Pacific Quake Felt In New Zealand

A large earthquake centered south of Fiji last night was felt on the North Island's east coast as a slow rolling motion.

The magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck at 11.08pm, New Zealand time, and was 694km deep and centred 680km south of Nadi, Fiji. It was felt between north of Auckland to coastal Bay of Plenty. The seismic waves took seven minutes to reach New Zealand.

" It occurred in the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone which is the world's most active zone of deep earthquakes," said Terry Webb, chief seismologist at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS).

In this region, and also under New Zealand, the Pacific Plate is sinking under the Australian Plate.

Earthquakes at this depth are very unlikely to cause a damaging tsunami.

" In the past 26 years there have been eight earthquakes of magnitude 7.5 and above in this region - or about one every three years. The biggest during that period was magnitude 8.1 in 1977," Dr Webb said.


John Callan
Communications Co-ordinator
Institiute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS)
Ph: 04-570-1444, or 025-402-571

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