GeoNet: Aftershocks to continue, though another big one not likely

Damage to a basketball court at City Fitness Gym in Palmerston North (via @GeorginaBallNZ)
The eagle has landed: Hobbit prop jolted from Wellington Airport ceiling (via @thatjohn)
(via @thatjohn)

UPDATE Jan 22: Scientists say the likelihood of another huge aftershock continues to diminish following Monday’s 6.3-magnitude Eketahuna quake.

The probability of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in the next week is only 5%, according to GeoNet data updated this afternoon. However, smaller aftershocks are expected to continue with anywhere from two to eleven 4.0 to 4.9 magnitude quakes expected in the next week.

Another quake above a 5.0 magnitude is 63% likely within the next month.

So far, more than 350 earthquakes have registered above 2.0 in magnitude since the big quake struck at 3:52 pm Monday. The bulk of those, 290, have been between 2.0 to 2.9. 

In response to the quakes, GNS Science and GeoNet are planning to deploy more seismometers to the region to supplement the permanent GeoNet network.

UPDATE Jan 21: Power has been restored to all but 60 of 5600 homes affected by yesterday's 6.2 quake, Powerco says.

Communter trains have resumed in Wellington.

There were no injuries or significant property damage, but scattere reports of quake effects continue to come in. Nine seals are said to have been crushed to death when a 20-tonne chunk of 162-metre-high Castle Rock, at Castlepoint, was shaken loose. 

There were dozens of aftershocks overnight, measuring between 4.3 and 2.1.

GNS Science says it expects the aftershocks to continue over the next week. Most will be top out between 4.0 and 4.9, but it sees a statistical likelihood of two between 5.0 and 5.9.


Jan 20: Train service has been suspended in Wellington after a 6.2 quake 10 km east of Eketahuna.

The quake struck at 3.52pm at a focal depth of 33km, according to an initial GeoNet report.

There were no immediate reports of injury or major damage.

The jolt was sharp enough to tip over bookshelves in the capital, and dislodged one of two Hobbit eagles from the ceiling of Wellington Airport. The giant prop, created by Weta Workshop, weighs two tonnes and has a wingspan of 15m. It is - or was - suspended from the roof by eight cables.

Although train service has been suspended on the brink of rush hour, most Wellingtonians are off work celebrating Anniversary Day.

Wellington Airport is open.

Phone service is reportedly patchy. Vodafone says three cellsites were affected by the quake.

Wairarapa woman Karen Monks posted photos showing tipped over shelves, plus a crack in an interior wall (below). Ms Monks said there were similar cracks in every room. She and her partner live north of Masterton in a district called Rangitumau.

A resident Manakau, just south of Levin, told NBR there was a "roar like a jet plane" as they quake hit, and that her car rocked from side to side.

The quake lasted around 10 seconds, she said.

Fonterra has a plant at close to the epicentre of the quake. The company's official account tweeted at 5pm, "All our staff are safe at the Pahiatua site after earthquake. No power and we are still assessing damage."

About 5600 customers on Powerco's network in Eketahuna, Alfredton, Palmerston North, Feilding and Manaia in Taranaki were left without electricity in the immediate wake of the quake; the company says some are expected to have no power overnight.

GeoNet says while it can't rule out another big quake, the likelihood is decreasing aftershocks. The largest aftershock so far has been a 4.5 shortly after 4pm.

Wellington and the upper South Island were rocked by a series of quakes in August last year, including a 6.6 jolt on August 16.

Below: The epicentre of the jolt (GeoNet; click to zoom)

Below: damage photos posted by Wairarapa resident Karen Monks (@RDiva):

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7 Comments & Questions

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Maybe businesses in Wellington that backup their systems to Palmerston North had better rethink their strategy.

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Correct, the Manawatu is a hazardous area. The big question remains, why is MRP going to build the Turitea wind farm right on the Wellington and Northern Ohariu Faults??

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That being the case then perhaps they should just move up to Auckland, and move the capital back there as well. Problem solved, correct?

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I could See this was highly likely to Happen...
The Nth Island Activity was increasing steadily this month
The thing we are Worried about Is that the Alpine fault is waking up..
Slipping ..The Resonator levels are increasing there also ...Oppps
Cmon big guys look closely we may not have much time to prepare
warn them

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I just hope the volcanic field further north is dead and not just dormant. I am supposed to be moving back to Auckland in March.

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EQC will probably call the damage pic as pre-existing.

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I love the way the geonet scientists say another big one is unlikely. Try telling that to the people who were living in the exact same area back in 1942 when on the 24 June there was a 7.2 quake near Masterton that did substantial damage to Masterton, Wellington and the lower North Island and then on the 1 August a 5.6 and on the 2 August 1942 a 6.8, close to the epicenter of Monday's quake, that did even more damage, particularly to Eketahuna and Phiatua. The later quakes I'm sure, if the geonet scientists were around back then were no doubt regarded as very unlikely. In truth, I don't think they really know.

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