In 1888 the Amuri District was shaken by a large earthquake that reached intensities of MM 9.

  • Location: North Canterbury
  • Date (NZ Mean Time): Saturday, 1 September 1888 at 4:15 am
  • Epicentre: 42.6°S, 172.55°E
  • Focal Depth: 12 km
  • Maximum Intensity: MM 9
  • Magnitude: MW 7.0 - 7.3
  • GeoNet Summary

The large earthquake that struck the Amuri District of Canterbury (about 100 km north of Christchurch) in 1888 is thought to have originated on the Hope Fault, a key component of the South Island’s Marlborough Fault Zone. It caused extensive fissuring along the fault, which showed significant amounts of both vertical and horizontal ground movement.

The earthquake’s intensity reached MM 9 in the epicentral area, and had a destructive impact on both buildings and the landscape. Buildings made of cob or stone were severely damaged, and a number of wooden buildings shifted on their foundations. In the Hope Valley the sideways force of the movement displaced fences crossing the fault by up to 2.6m. Chimney damage or collapse and breakage of household goods like glass and crockery were reported throughout the Amuri District and also in Hokitika and Greymouth.

The earthquake caused numerous landslides, and brought down large blocks of rock from bedrock outcrops in the Hope Valley. Several fissures cracked the ground in Hanmer Plain along the Percival River, and a large rupture is also said to have formed in Kelly’s Creek. In the Otira Gorge, which experienced the strongest shaking in the West Coast, 4 new freshwater springs were created. At Glynn Wye, the shaking caused significant liquefaction of the soil, (in which the increased water pressure caused by the shaking lowers the strength of the soil), and jets of sandy water erupted from the ground.

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