Tremor strikes during Seddon quake meeting

Seismologist Matt Gerstenberger speaking to the 200 strong crowd at the Awatere Rugby Clubrooms
Seismologist Matt Gerstenberger speaking to the 200 strong crowd at the Awatere Rugby Clubrooms

People listening to a scientist explain the constant earthquakes shaking Seddon dropped to the floor when a magnitude 4 tremor struck during the meeting last night.

There was a silent pause as the quake began to rumble before some of the 200 people at the Awatere Rugby Club rooms dropped to the floor and others looked for tables to shelter under.

Nervous laughter and chatter erupted when the quake was over.

The 4.0 quake, with a depth of 16km, hit at 7.31pm during GNS Science seismologist Matt Gerstenberger's presentation at the meeting.

He didn't move during the quake.

The Seddon-Cook Strait region has had more quakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher during the past seven days than during the past 10 years, Mr Gerstenberger said.

Since Friday, there had been 392 quakes bigger than 3.0, against about 280 during the previous decade.

A video of quake activity and aftershocks using colour blocks was played twice after requests from the crowd.

The audience gasped as the colour red representing the biggest quake of 6.5 at 5.10pm on Sunday hit the screen.

The 10 biggest quakes happened between Friday and Tuesday, ranging from magnitude 6.5 to 4.8, at depths between 20 kilometers and 13km.

There was a 29 per cent probability of another quake of 6.0 or bigger with 10 years, Mr Gerstenberger said. 

The audience was generally silent as they listened to the presentation, although one man in the audience was not satisfied when Mr Gerstenberger explained the probability of more quakes in the region. He asked why Sunday's quake was not predicted.

Mr Gerstenberger said it was not unexpected. A quake of 6.0 or more is expected in the region about every 10 years.

''We know this is an active area,'' he said.

''I think we have to be prepared. We live in New Zealand. We live in an active country.''

During the past three days, 10 seismometers have been placed around the region to record aftershock data.

An additional GPS station is being installed today to gather more information.

At the end of the presentation Mr Gerstenberger handed out 20 seismometers to Seddon residents that would record data and transmit it back to GNS when plugged in to the computer.

People were concerned about the lack of information available to Seddon residents immediately after the magnitude 5.8 quake that hit at 7.17am on Sunday.

Marlborough emergency services manager John Foley told them the quake did not cause any damage. 

Information had been available within the hour after the more serious 6.5 quake later in the day, he said. 

He advised everyone to get prepared after less than half of the audience raised their hands when asked if they had an emergency kit ready at home.

''The community needs to be prepared and look after themselves first,'' Mr Foley said.

A woman in the audience was applauded when she spoke about the need for residents to work together as a community.

''What I see this evening, we are saying things did not go right, but we are the master of our own destiny,'' she said.

The woman asked for volunteers to form a group in Seddon to organise an emergency response system.

''I got in my vehicle [after the quake on Sunday] and I drove around and everywhere I went there was somebody looking after somebody else,'' she said.

''That's what we do here. So let's get together and do that.''

Kaikoura MP Colin King said an EQC work station would be set up next week to handle claims, which must be lodged within three months of the event. 

He advised anyone with damage to take photos to be used when making claims.To make a claim, visit or phone 0800 326 243. 



Ten largest earthquakes up to 9am Thursday
  • 6.5, 13km, 5.09pm, July 21
  • 5.8, 20km, 7.17am,  July 21
  • 5.7, 17km, 9.06am, July 19
  • 5.2, 13km, 5.13pm, July 21
  • 5.0, 16km, 10.47am, July 22
  • 4.9, 17km, 1.31am, July 23
  • 4.9, 16km, 10.55am, July 21
  • 4.9, 16km, 6.59pm, July 21
  • 4.9, 10km, 3.15am, July 22
  • 4.8, 20km, 5.29pm, July 21

Possible to beat the quake-related stress

The Marlborough Express