Sulphur Smell After Lyttelton Shake, Sulphur Dust On Cars

The Twitter community is starting to pick up on reports of the smell of sulphur in the air after this morning’s quake at Lyttelton.

More to come…

Update from

“A strong smell of sulphur across Christchurch’s eastern suburbs is being noticed following Saturday’s 7.1 earthquake, according to

New Brighton resident David Shone told WeatherWatch that people were noting the smell since Saturday, saying that it smelt similar to Rotorua.

“Even our spring well water has a distinctive sulphur smell, until you boil it and leave it to stand for a while,” said Shone.

Twitter user Michaeljrist also told WeatherWatch he was hearing reports of a strong smell of sulphur.”

Volcanoes of very fine silt have sprung up around the Christchurch area since the initial quake, some as high as 2 metres have been likened to termite hills. These cones seem be linked to the smell of sulphur in some places.

Mr McCombe from the Southshore suburb of Christchurch, who had survived the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931, was shaken awake by the 7.1 magnitude quake on Saturday:

Volcanoes Erupt in Gardens – Sydney Morning Herald 6 September

“…The experience brought back memories of when Mr McCombe was a pupil at Parkvale Primary School in Hastings, on the North Island. The pupils were playing outside when the quake hit at 10.47am on February 3, 1931.

”The ground started to shake and water started coming out of the swimming bath that had just been built. The teacher told us to get down on the ground and hold on to the grass,” Mr McCombe said. ”This quake would have been as big …It left me a bit shaky.” His son John, a photographer, and wife Cheryl, were on hand within minutes. ”It was very comforting …”

On leaving his house, Mr McCombe noticed an unusual sulphur smell. ”When dawn broke, outside our place on the estuary were literally thousands of small volcanoes. They were mini-volcanoes, with craters, which had popped up all down Rocking Horse Road and in people’s gardens, including two in our driveway.” The mounds oozed a grey, cement-like material and were still visible yesterday.

Mr McCombe’s house suffered major structural damage and was being assessed by an engineer. ”The engineers think that huge jets of water have pushed upwards, the concrete pad has resisted, but then it’s created a vacuum space underneath, so the house has subsided. The whole house has twisted sideways, as if you’re taking a lid off a jar.

”You’ve got the amazing spectacle of huge structural damage … yet the shampoo is still on the shelf in the shower box.” Read the full account here

A poster on the TradeMe community board said the she’s found sulphur dust on her car and was sure that it wasn’t pollen

Another poster responded with:

“Contacted council and they are aware of it. Told me siezmologists ( spelt wrong I know) are currently trying to find its source. Checking out reports in Hornby and surrounding areas. They have had alot of reports in about it. I could smell the sulphur yesterday quite strong.”


5 thoughts on “Sulphur Smell After Lyttelton Shake, Sulphur Dust On Cars

  1. Hi, I found info on Wikipedia saying that Sulphur Gases are a sign of Volcanic activity??

    “Gas and ash plume erupted from Mount Pinatubo, Philippines.
    As magma nears the surface and its pressure decreases, gases escape. This process is much like what happens when you open a bottle of soda and carbon dioxide escapes. Sulphur dioxide is one of the main components of volcanic gases, and increasing amounts of it herald the arrival of increasing amounts of magma near the surface. For example, on May 13, 1991, an increasing amount of sulphur dioxide was released from Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. On May 28, just two weeks later, sulphur dioxide emissions had increased to 5,000 tonnes, ten times the earlier amount. Mount Pinatubo later erupted on June 12, 1991. On several occasions, such as before the Mount Pinatubo eruption and the 1993 Galeras, Colombia eruption, sulphur dioxide emissions have dropped to low levels prior to eruptions. Most scientists believe that this drop in gas levels is caused by the sealing of gas passages by hardened magma. Such an event leads to increased pressure in the volcano’s plumbing system and an increased chance of an explosive eruption” this is copied from

    Is this correct??

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