Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Hits South Island of New Zealand

Below is the earthquake summary from USGS | 2010 September 03 16:35:46 UTC

The September 3, 2010 South Island, New Zealand earthquake occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting within the crust of the Pacific plate, near the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps at the western edge of the Canterbury Plains. The earthquake struck approximately 50 km to the west-northwest of Christchurch, the largest population center in the region, and about 80-90 km to the south and east of the current expression of the Australia:Pacific plate boundary through the island (the Alpine and Hope Faults). The earthquake, though removed from the plate boundary itself, likely reflects right-lateral motion on one of a number of regional faults related to the overall relative motion of these plates and may be related to the overall southern propagation of the Marlborough fault system in recent geologic time.

Today’s earthquake occurred approximately 50 km to the southeast of a M7.1, surface-rupturing event in Authur’s Pass, on March 9th, 1929, which caused 17 fatalities. More recently, two earthquakes of M6.7 and M5.9 occurred in June 1994 approximately 40 km to the northwest of today’s event, but did not cause any known fatalities or significant damage.

The earthquake occurred 330 km (205 miles) SW of Wellington, New Zealand. US Ambassador David Huebner tweeted the earthquake:

# Several 5.0 aftershocks. Utility ruptures / power out. Cty ctr closed by police. Thankfully only minor injuries reportd.
about 7 hours ago via web

# Reports coming in of some smaller buildings down. All USG employees now accounted for.
about 8 hours ago via web

# 7.2 earthquake in Christchurch. Some damage reported.
about 9 hours ago via web

The US Embassy New Zealand tweeted the temblor and directed followers to the NZ Civil Defense. The ambassador’s spouse, Dr. Duane McWaine also tweeted about the earthquake, saying “We’re OK. Americans accounted for. No casualties reported. US-trained Cdn Geologist #MarkQuigley channelled KHutton/LJones. Good job!”

The US Embassy in Wellington released the following Public Announcement:

There was a major earthquake near Christchurch this morning, 4 September 2010, at 04:35 am, details as reported by New Zealand Civil Defence in report here below. From information gathered as of 10:35 am, United States Consulate officials can add the following:

  • 2,550 American Citizens are registered in the greater Christchurch area.
  • No deaths reported, only minor injuries to greater Christchurch population.
  • Moderate damage reported – confined to Christchurch area
  • Facades of building crumbled
  • Water, sewer, gas lines ruptured
  • Power out for much of the city
  • City center closed by police, due to damage
  • Emergency Services up and running in Christchurch – main hospital running on generator power, but fully functional.
  • Police report looting occurring

Please consult the New Zealand Civil Defence website, link just below, for further updates.

NBC had some footage below on the aftermath of the earthquake and the aftershocks: