System errors cause rogue quake reports

Last updated 11:08 20/09/2012

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Teething problems with a new earthquake-alert system means false alerts are being sent out before the precise location can be pinpointed, GNS Science says.

GeoNet, which monitors all quake activity under Crown research institute GNS Science, has been operating a new, fully automated alert system for the past few weeks.

A spokesman said GeoNet was fixing a few "teething problems" that saw quake alerts being sent out immediately a shake was felt.

"The problem with that, though, is it takes a bit of time to pinpoint exactly where a quake was centred and how big and deep it was," he said.

GNS said an alert sent out today, which said there was a magnitude-5.6 quake off the west coast of Auckland, had combined data from a 2.6 quake in Oxford, in North Canterbury, and a much larger one near the Kermadec Islands.

A recent alert detailing a 6.4 quake, 83 kilometres deep and 75km west of Opunake in Taranaki, was also incorrect, GNS said.

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