Large Quake Rattles North, South Islands – Updated

Picton quake 3 Dec 2011

A large 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the top of the South Island and lower North Island at 7.19pm today.

The epicentre was 60 km deep and felt strongly in Marlborough and Wellington. TVNZ report told of how highrise windows were shattered in the capital and apartments being evacuated, police said.

“there has been damage to louvres and windows broken on the Meridian Building on Custom Quay Street in central Wellington. Some of the louvres have come loose and are hanging precariously.

The Quay Apartments in Picton had to be evacuated as a hot water cylinder burst and set off the fire alarms. Two other cylinders were also damaged in the town, according to the Fire Service…”

GeoNet duty officer Dr Tony Hurst told the NZ Herald this shake was the biggest they had recorded in the area for around 20 years.  Mr Hurst also said  the depth of the earthquake, at 60km, meant there were not likely to be many aftershocks.

Aftershocks Getting Shallower

Mr Hurst has since been proven wrong and it looks like things may be hotting up in the Wellington region.

After this blog was written on 3 Dec there were two more shakes in the area. On the 8 Dec there was a  A 4.2 magnitude quake at 10.16am, 30 km deep centred 10km west of Porirua and another later in the day at 8.13pm which measured 3.1 magnitude at a depth of 10 km, centred 10km south east of Lower Hutt. For more see GeoNet.

For more about earthquake risks in Wellington please follow this link

Picton quake was felt over a large area

Government Buildings Closed

Recently a number of government buildings have been closed after they were found to be below present day earthquake standards. According to an article in Stuff around 40 schools in Wellington alone are on the suspect list

Tremors are rippling through the public sector as more government buildings are closed and vacated following alarming seismic risk reports.

An Inland Revenue processing centre in Upper Hutt housing hundreds of staff is to be closed for a month and six court buildings – three in the lower North Island – will be closed for up to a year.

Both the Justice Ministry and Inland Revenue yesterday reassured staff their jobs were safe, saying they would continue to be paid while earthquake strengthening work was completed.

Hundreds of government buildings are being assessed to determine the level of risk and whether they need to be vacated and earthquake strengthened.

Forty schools in Wellington city are deemed potentially earthquake-prone or are under investigation by the council…” more here


Twitters users were quick to take to the net with their accounts of the quake.  The hashtag to follow for all things earthquake related in NZ is #eqnz