Another big quake in the next month? GeoNet's three scenarios for lower North Island

Cross-section of the earth below the Wairarapa. The mainshock and most of the aftershocks are currently occurring in the crust of the Pacific plate, which is diving below the Australian plate (GeoNet)
The region for which earthquake probabilities have been calculated (GeoNet)

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GeoNet and Geoscience released new projections this morning showing a quake over a 6.0 magnitude is only 10% likely during the next month near Eketahuna.

Researchers released three scenarios with less frequent aftershocks being the most likely scenario over the next 30 days.   

The chances of a big one hitting have decreased since a magnitude 6.2 quake struck 15 kilometres east of Eketahuna on Monday afternoon.

GeoNet received more than 9000 reports from the public who felt the damage, which rattled through a seismically active area of the country that extends from Wellington to the Gisborne region. Reports of damage include a Hobbit movie eagle sculpture which fell from the Wellington airport’s ceiling.

Since Monday the area has registered more than 850 aftershocks, most of which are below 3.0 magnitude.

Researchers say there is a 9% chance of a 6.0 to 7.0 magnitude quake in the next 30 days and less than a 1% chance of big quake over 7.0 in magnitude.  

GeoNet calls the area “geologically complex” where the Pacific tectonic plate is being forced sideways and downward into the mantle below the Australian plate at a rate of about 42 millimetres per year.

Since 1940, there have been 31 earthquakes of similar magnitude in the area. Only two of these have been followed by quakes of a similar or greater size.

In June 1942 a magnitude 6.5 earthquake near Masterton was followed by a magnitude 6.8 in August and a magnitude 6.0 in December that year. 

In February 1990 a magnitude 5.9 earthquake near Weber and Porangahau was followed by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in May 1990 in the same area, which damaged buildings near Weber.


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