A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck in New Zealand Friday (August 16, 2013) at 2:31 p.m. local time. It disrupted transportation and trapped people in elevators. At least six aftershocks of 5.0 magnitude or stronger followed the main quake. No tsunami warnings were issued.
The quake’s epicenter was 14 miles south of the town of Blenheim, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island, and was felt in the capital, Wellington, on the other side of the Cook Strait that lies between New Zealand’s two main islands. The Washington Post reported:
Several homes near the epicenter were severely damaged, with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in, said police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn. She said a bridge was severely damaged on the main highway near Seddon, and that rocks and debris had fallen onto the road. Police closed a section of the highway.
Some buildings in Wellington, the capital, were evacuated, and items were knocked off shelves in places.
On February 22, 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city’s downtown, in one of New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime disasters. That is probably why Vince Cholewa, a spokesman for New Zealand’s civil defense ministry, was quoted by CNN today as saying about the quake:
We’ve certainly dodged a bullet.
Details of the main quake, from the U.S. Geological Survey, are as follows:
2013-08-16 02:31:07 UTC
2013-08-16 14:31:07 UTC+12:00 at epicenter
29km (18mi) SSE of Blenheim, New Zealand
77km (48mi) SW of Karori, New Zealand
80km (50mi) SW of Wellington, New Zealand
84km (52mi) SE of Nelson, New Zealand
87km (54mi) ESE of Richmond, New Zealand
New Zealand is located on the Ring of Fire – an area around the Pacific Ocean where seismic activity, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, are common.
Bottom line: A strong earthquake struck New Zealand on August 16, 2013. Minor damage and no reports of injuries.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.