6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Struck Southland, New Zealand

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By Reissa Su | December 17, 2013 12:14 PM EST

A massive 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Southland, New Zealand in the early hours of Dec 17. The Southland earthquake was measured 25km deep and centred 125km west of Tuatapere on 1:10 am in the morning.

According to local reports, at least 170 people reported or felt the earthquake with some people coming from further north in Wellington's Naenae. Others reported things falling off their shelves, but aside from that, there was no other damage. A spokesperson for Southland's police department said there were no reports of immediate damage due to the earthquake.

Because of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, Southland is warned by GNS authorities to expect more tremors. GNS seismologist Caroline Little said the heightened activity in Southland will be associated with the subduction zone as the Australian plate moves under the Pacific plate.

Ms Little has confirmed aftershocks due to the earthquake's magnitude. She said she has detected several tremors after the quake. Southland residents can expect heightened activity for about a month or so, according to Ms Little.

The GNS also confirmed there was no chance of tsunami developing because of the recent earthquake. Ms Little said the earthquake felt in New Zealand in 2009 was stronger and contained "a thousand times more energy" than the Southland quake. She said tremors were quite common in the region.

New Zealand quakes weakening Earth's crust

The deadly earthquakes that shook New Zealand in 2010 and 2011 may have caused a part of the Earth's crust to weaken. According to researchers, New Zealand is in the Ring of Fire - a narrow zone in the Pacific Ocean wherein 80 per cent of the biggest earthquakes in the world happen.

Most of the world's earthquakes or 90 per cent also strike along countries in the Ring of Fire. In 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shook the South Island of New Zealand. The epicenter was close to the center of Christchurch, killing 185 people and totally destroyed or partially damaged 100,000 buildings. The earthquake of 2011 was the costliest one to hit New Zealand, which affected one-sixth of the country's GDP.

Scientists have discovered most of the earthquakes that struck New Zealand had caused abnormally high energy levels to be released. Experts believe that the high levels of energy are similar to those observed when strong faults rupture in the Earth's crust.

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