Series of Powerful Earthquakes Strikes New Zealand

Overview

A series of powerful earthquakes struck the South Pacific on Friday, March 5th  with the strongest earthquake registering at a 8.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake was one of the strongest earthquakes to strike the South Pacific in several years. The 8.1 earthquake occurred at 8:28AM local time, and tsunami warnings were quickly issued following the quake. The earthquake occurred near 29.740°S 177.267°W and at a depth of 19.4km (12.1mi.) The tsunami rolled into Tokomaru Bay at approximately 12:43PM with estimated wave heights of in excess of 3 meters.

Foreshocks

Approximate location of the powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred 174km NE of Gisborne, New Zealand around 3:27AM on March 5, 2021. Image Credit: USGS

Foreshocks were seen in the early hours of the day with numerous quakes felt near Gisborne, New Zealand. Prior to the 8.1 felt near the Kermadec Islands, a powerful 7.3 was felt 174km NE of Gisborne, New Zealand. This earthquake occurred on the same fault as the Kermadec Island quake that occurred a few hours later. The earthquake was felt across the northern islands of New Zealand. Very Strong to Severe shaking was reported near Te Kaha, New Zealand during the quake. A series of weaker magnitude quakes then followed the strong 7.1, with quakes registering from magnitude 5 to magnitude 6. These quakes slowly moved up the fault until a powerful 7.4 magnitude foreshock was felt near the Kermadec islands. The intense quake occurred at approximately 7:41AM local time and occurred at a depth of 55.6km (33.5mi.) Although tsunami warnings were issued for the earthquake, they were updated after the stronger 8.1 magnitude earthquake occurred. The 7.4 earthquake was only a precursor of the strongest quake, which was recorded at magnitude 8.1 occurred at 8:28AM local time. The earthquake occurred near 29.740°S 177.267°W and at a depth of 19.4km (12.1mi.) Tsunami warnings were quickly issued following the quake, with tsunami sirens being heard across New Zealand due to the approaching threat. A wave height of 64cm was recorded in Norfolk Island, Australia. Tsunami bulletins are still in effect for areas across coastal areas in the Eastern Pacific, including but not limited to Mexico, Peru and areas inbetween.

 

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