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Kaikōura Earthquake: One Year On

Image: RNZ

Kaikōura Earthquake: One Year On

Exactly a year after it struck the coastal town of Kaikōura, we take a look back at the earthquake that changed New Zealand.

Kaikōura Earthquake: One Year On

Two minutes past midnight on November 14, 2016 a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the quiet coastal town of Kaikōura in New Zealand’s South Island.

The earthquake became one of the most recorded and studied natural disasters in world history. 21 faults across a distance of 160km ruptured, creating disastrous effects.

More than 50 meters of sediment plummeted through the Kaikōura Canyon – which is 1200m deep – and into the ocean, where it settled 20-30 meters below the surface. The faults created the largest tsunami in the region since 1947, and tore up roads and farmland throughout the town and surrounding areas.

Scientifically speaking, the Kaikōura earthquake changed previous ways of thinking. It moved across faults more than 15km apart, where previously scientists had thought earthquakes could only traverse 6km gaps.

More importantly, however, the Kaikōura earthquake stands as a testament to the New Zealand people’s resilience in disastrous times. Most will remember the communal rescue and cleanup efforts that followed in the wake of the earthquake, and none could forget when farmers banded together to rescue stranded cows.

A year on and the small town of Kaikōura is still recovering – but it’s come a long way since November 2016. The road ahead is uncertain, however, as Kaikōura was struck by another earthquake of 5.4 magnitude earlier this year in October.

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake also struck the Cook Strait shortly before midnight this past Sunday 12 November, only 30km from Wellington. Locals reported feeling the earthquake as far north as Hamilton and as far south as Gore.

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