Randy Economy Investigative Journalist, Political Adbviser

Friday, September 03, 2010

7.0 MEGA QUAKE SLAMS NEW ZEALAND AREA OF CHRISTCHURCH. SHARP AFTERSHOCKS HIT REGION. LOOTING BREAKS OUT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said.

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 quake, which hit 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of the southern city of Christchurch, shook a wide area with some residents saying buildings had collapsed and power was severed.

Christchurch police reported road damage in parts of the city of 400,000 people, with a series of sharp aftershocks rocking the area.

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