2016 a record-breaking year for earthquakes in New Zealand | News | DW | 02.01.2017
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2016 a record-breaking year for earthquakes in New Zealand

In 2016, New Zealand experienced a quake on average every 15-20 minutes. But one singular quake in November may have caused more damaged than all the others combined.

The year 2016 will go down in history as the year the earth never seemed to stop shaking - in New Zealand.

With nearly 33,000 recorded earthquakes, including two in excess of 7.0, one part or another of New Zealand was atremble, on average, every 15-20 minutes.

The country's seismologists have dubbed 2016 "the Groundbreaker," according to Sara McBride who writes a blog for GeoNet, the country's geological hazard information center.

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My picture of the week | Images of destruction in New Zealand

"Let me sum up: we had geysers, eruptions, landslides, tsunami and a whole lotta earthquakes. The ground broke under our feet, and that is why we are calling this year the 'groundbreaker','" McBride wrote in a blog post on Sunday.

And, she added, "It should also be known as the 'record breaker.'"

The agency's monitoring network recorded 32,828 earthquakes last year - a more than 50 percent increase over its usual annual average. It is also the most quakes the agency has ever recorded in a single year during its 15-year history.

"You'd be hard pressed to find someone who wasn't impacted, in some way, by earthquakes in New Zealand this year," McBride wrote.

Neuseeland Erdbeben (picture-alliance/AP Photo/New Zealand Herald/M. Scott)

A church is badly damaged after a 7.8 quake in November

A lot of shaking in 2011

The second most active earthquake year on record in New Zealand was 2011, when GeoNet recorded 29,000 earthquakes.

Despite the massive number of tremblers it was a pair of quakes in September and November that caused the most damage.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 22 km (14 miles) deep off the northeast coast of New Zealand on September 2. A small tsunami was generated but damage to property was limited. But this seemed to be a mere warm-up act for the year's "big one."

On November 14 a magnitude 7.8 quake rocked New Zealand's South Island, rupturing faults, tearing through the earth and raising the seabed.

The earthquake killed two people and caused millions of dollars worth of damage buildings and roads.

New Zealand sits on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are frequent. An earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2010 killed 185 people.

bik/kl (dpa, GN)


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