The Latest News space is using the Blog Mode!
View this blog in blog mode

When we released Felt Rapid a few weeks ago, we planned to release a long-form felt report to collect more detailed information in the event of a larger earthquake. Well, that day has arrived, earlier than we thought, thanks to the East Cape Earthquake (M7.1) this morning. 

About Felt Detailed

This new long-form questionnaire is based on the older Felt reports that you might remember from earthquakes past. However, because we only bring it out for (hopefully) rare larger quakes we’re now able to tailor it for specific earthquakes. For today’s survey we’ve included tsunami related questions. These new questions include asking what you did during and after the shaking, how you like to receive information, and whether you were concerned about a tsunami.  We use your valuable insights to better estimate the shaking intensity caused by this earthquake and to better understand the effects of future major earthquakes in New Zealand. These new questions allow us to work with social science researchers to help us better understand how people think and act during earthquakes. We’ve also been able to increase its stability by having it hosted by SurveyMonkey.

We chose SurveyMonkey as our provider for the Felt Detailed because we know it works. The social science team at GNS Science has used it to collect thousands of surveys over the years. We think it should be stable and secure enough to handle all the great information that you’ve got to share. Be aware that this is a very new system and we had to forego a part of our user testing to make it live for this earthquake. 

If you felt today's big earthquake, give the new Felt Detailed a go and see what you think. That way you would help us both with the early response (through Felt RAPID) and with the research (through Felt Reports: Detailed).  Most of the time, you can stick to clicking a button on Felt Rapid. 

P.S. We’ve had a lot of feedback from you guys today about the new felt reporting system not working. Sorry. This was the first big test, and it didn’t perform so well. Why did this happen? Our Google assisted address search was capped at 150,000 searches, and we went over this (Google searches every time you type a single letter into the address bar, so it goes through 150,000 searches quickly!) 

Please check MCDEM's website, and MCDEM twitter regarding the lastest tsunami advice.

National Warning: Tsunami Marine and Beach Threat CANCELLED 

Issued at 08:30 NZST 02 September 2016

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) has cancelled the tsunami marine and beach threat warning in place for the North Coast Regions of the North Island of New Zealand.

Based on all available data, the greatest tsunami activity has now passed. However, coasts may still experience unusual, strong currents and sea level fluctuations lasting for several more hours.

At 4:37am today a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 100km off the coast of East Cape. The tsunami experts panel is active and is assessing the situation with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

Shaking was felt throughout the North Island, with nearly 5,000 felt reports reported to GeoNet within the first 20 mins of the earthquake. As at 7:10am there have been 57 aftershocks, the largest, is a magnitude 6.2 quake. Aftershocks can be expected to continue for some time. This morning's quake was preceded by a magnitude 5.7 foreshock at 10:04am yesterday which occurred in the same area. (Note: there is no way to tell if an earthquake is a foreshock, only when the larger quake occurs can we call it a foreshock).

This area is no stranger to large earthquakes. In February 1995 there was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake off the coast of East Cape, further to the south than this morning's earthquake.

If you felt this earthquake, we'd like to learn more about your experience. You can now fill in Felt Detailed here. This longer form felt report takes a bit more time than our Felt Rapid system but it provides valuable information to our scientists about the earthquake.




This will be updated as more information comes to hand, last updated at 4.10 pm.





“Now, as I was saying about the tsunami…” (BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP!)

One of the screens at the GeoNet Media Centre begins flashing bright red and making loud bleeping noises. Dr. Gill Jolly, one of our science leaders, stops to take a look over her shoulder to see what is going on, as we all do, a bit breathlessly.  Red beeping screens usually doesn’t mean hugs and puppies at GeoNet. We wait for the red square to appear on the screen of the world map. It is near New Britain, a large island in Papua New Guinea.  We wait for the magnitude numbers to come up; an initial M6.7.  Our duty officer walks calmly back to his computer to check if it could cause an actual tsunami, rather than the one we are all exercising. The words are spoken “No Duff”.

I’ve worked in or around Civil Defence organisations for over a decade and rarely are the words “no duff” spoken in an exercise. "No duff" means that something real is happening and we need to pause the exercise to respond. Our duty officer returns quickly with the news that, while the earthquake was large, it won’t directly affect New Zealand. We get back to the exercise at hand: the national tsunami Exercise Tangaroa.  

Working in Civil Defence Emergency Management exercises can be a strange experience for the uninitiated. There are all kinds of specific terms and acronyms used like CIMS (Coordinated Incident Management System), EOC (Emergency Operation Centre), and CDEM (Civil Defence and Emergency Management). There is good reason for all the acronyms; Civil Defence has developed, partially, out of a military heritage from post-World War 2 and the use of these acronyms helps generate a shared understanding as well as being able to work at speed. But Civil Defence has evolved well past its post WW2 roots; it is now a coordinated group of all first response agencies (Police, Fire, Ambulance) combined with Health, welfare agencies (Red Cross, Salvation Army etc…), lifelines (water, electricity, transport and gas providers) and the coordinating agencies; the local, regional (CDEM groups) and national (Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management). The CDEM structure also includes GeoNet and GNS Science, to provide science advice and information to the responding agencies, specifically MCDEM. And, while CDEM focuses its exercises on agencies, everyone is needed to respond effectively, as seen in Christchurch with the Student Army. 

Exercise Tangaroa was a scenario of a large tsunami (M9.1) located in the Kermadec Islands, slightly out of the coverage of the GeoNet sensor network (the writers of exercises can be mean sometimes!). As a regional source tsunami, it means we have little time to determine its impacts before the tsunami hits our shores, unlike the distant source tsunami, where CDEM agencies get hours to carefully plan if evacuations are necessary. However, we still have a role to play in bringing together the Tsunami Experts’ Panel, a group of expert volunteers who assist MCDEM in understanding what the possibility of tsunami impacts are after a large earthquake off the New Zealand coastline.  Exercises are always pretty stressful affairs, with miscommunication, misdirection, rumours and systems barely holding up under the pressure. But this is the value of exercising; to see where the gaps are so we can better plan for when the real thing happens. It is stressful, even notionally, working to respond to a pretend tsunami that could have such damaging affects to the people of New Zealand.

Needless to say, we were all pretty tired after Exercise Tangaroa. Imagine our unpleasant surprise when our system detected a large earthquake off the coast of Te Araroa this morning. Our seemingly tireless duty officer sprang into action, shaking off any stress from the day before and quickly refined the earthquake's depth and location. Our duty officer provided us with what we needed; more clarity on the location than our automated system provides. After a brief flurry of media phone calls and social media questions, we have a cup of coffee together, take a breath and prepare ourselves for what Mother Nature may have in store for us next. 

It is something I’m always being reminded of at GeoNet. Exercising is somewhat reassuring because at least you are aware of when it is coming. In real life, we get no such warning. We don’t know when a damaging tsunami may strike our shores but, if the past is any indicator, we should be as prepared as we can be.

One of our partners, MCDEM (the people who ran Exercise Tangaroa) have put together a great website that can help you prepare for all kinds of emergencies, not just tsunami:

Why is New Zealand so shaky?


What it took to locate earthquakes before GeoNet


Find out what scientists are doing with our earthquake
data and how that impacts New Zealand

GeoNet and EQC's great partnership


At GeoNet we're always trying to improve on our services. We don't have a large team, but we try and stretch what resources we have. So…we've just started a re-design of our website, and we want to make sure we get it right - from the ground up - so it's easy as possible to find the information you want. We'd really love your help in building a better website.

We'd love it if you could complete our online survey - it's mobile friendly too! It has 15 questions, and may take between 10 and 15 minutes. Before we get on to the look and feel of the website, we're starting with the basics - how we structure our webpages. We want to know where you would expect to find information about our various hazards. The survey will be up until midday Monday 29th February.

As a small thank you, one “lucky” survey participant will receive this t-shirt from GeoNet, with our thanks. Yes, it’s an image of a kitten coming out of a volcano. According to one of our volcanologists, it is a “life-changing image”. Note: no New Zealand volcanoes or kittens were harmed in making the t-shirt.

While this t-shirt isn’t very serious, we take improving our website very seriously. So, go on, fill out our survey and be in to get this amazing t-shirt (exchanges are available if you don’t want to be seen rocking a kitten coming out of a volcano t-shirt).


Our world changed on the 22 February 2011. As a scientist and the Director of GeoNet, I’m an expert at numbers not with words. Explaining the impact of this earthquake with words is an almost impossible task.

When I reflect on the last five years, I see the tremendous growth that has occurred for our GeoNet project. Before the earthquakes, we were a little, rarely discussed seismic and volcanic monitoring network, known mainly by scientists, policy makers, hazard analysts and science fans. That all changed after 4 September 2010 and intensified on 22 February 2011 to a level we were not expecting.

Since then, the positives have been many.  What we know about earthquakes since 22 February has taken us to new and unexpected directions that we could not have imagined before the earthquake. We now have GeoNet Rapid, which delivers almost immediate information on earthquakes to our users. We now have ‘the GeoNet app’, along with our website and social media platforms. We sent out 2,150,890 push notifications (custom app alerts) on the recent Valentine’s Day earthquake on 14 February 2016.  However, it must be cold comfort for the people of Canterbury that the leaps and bounds in the science come from that earthquake that took so much. 

I am acutely aware that the costs of this growth have been exceedingly high. The loss of life, the damage to the city, the suffering of people, is almost unimaginable even five years later.  So perhaps the greatest learning for me was how people turned to GeoNet for support. I learned that science can sometimes comfort as well as inform.

With every large earthquake that has come since the 22 February 2011, the first consideration we have now is about the people affected and how we can communicate with them. We have become people centred, always learning more about how to provide the latest and most useful information to all our audiences. In this way, we honour the people of Christchurch, who are still teaching us lessons about resilience and enduring strength.


Our scientists are now back in the office and have finished reviewing 2015. We can now confirm that 2015 was mostly harmless. Sure, we had some wobbles (thanks Wilberforce!), and Ngauruhoe woke up a bit…then promptly went back to sleep. Overall, it was a pretty quiet year. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t complaining…we like quieter years! Quieter years give us a chance to catch up on research, strengthen our monitoring network, install new equipment and have lunch with Leanne from accounts. One exception was our landslide team, who were kept busy with the effects of Cyclone Pam, earthquakes AND a volcano causing havoc. 

Here is the breakdown of 2015… in terms of geological action for New Zealand.

Volcanoes: Turned down in 2015 but still on “simmer”

Like 2014, volcanic activity was relatively minor in 2015. We had a burst of seismic activity at Ngauruhoe in March but by the end of April, it had gone back to sleep. In August, low gas emissions and seismic activity pulled Mt. Tongariro’s alert level down to 0 on the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) scale. This was the first time since before the eruptions in 2012 that the level has been back to 0. White Island continued to puff and splutter away, with typical hydrothermal activity and periods of increased tremor continuing throughout the year, but no eruptions.  All other volcanoes were quiet. Mt. Ruapehu’s Crater Lake experienced high and low temperatures and a snow and ice avalanche entering and temporarily cooling down areas of the lake by a few degrees. 

What 2016 will bring is unknown but the GeoNet monitoring team continues to keep a close eye on New Zealand volcanoes.

Earthquakes: South Island dominates in Quake Stakes

2015 had a shaky start, with the magnitude 6.0 Wilberforce Earthquake. The South Island continued to dominate in the larger earthquakes stakes, with 6.2 earthquake between Kaikoura and St. Arnaud in late April. The South Island continued to rumble when the 5.8 Matukituki quake, near Wanaka, struck a week later. Fortunately, no major injuries or damage was reported from any of the quakes.

After May, New Zealand quieted down, with no major earthquakes (more than a 6.0) reported for the rest of the year. As far as the bigger quakes this year, overall, there were 43 quakes that measured more than 5.0. 31 of those 43 were far offshore, in the Kermadec Islands. The North Island was relatively quiet in 2015, with three quakes more than magnitude 5.0 striking on land while the South Island had double this number, with six in 2015.

Generally, 2015 turned out to be quieter than 2014. Total quakes this year was 20,008, which was slightly less than 2014, which had 20,711.

So what does this mean for 2016? Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball to tell us what our Shaky Isles will do next.

Landslides: Triple Threats

This year, our landslide team had a full plate with landslides caused by earthquakes, massive storms and volcanoes. We had three magnitude 6.0 earthquakes this year, as discussed in the previous section, that triggered landslides and slips in their respective areas.

But the serious action came this year from massive storms, including Tropical Cyclone Pam. Pam wasn’t the only storm to grace our shores this year with large storm and rain systems, which created considerable sized floods in the Manawatu region, also generated the largest landslides and slips. We also responded to the rainstorm that affected the Hutt Valley and Kapiti coast in May. 

Interestingly, this year, we also had a landslide caused by a volcano! White Island’s activity generated a landslide which required further investigation. 

2015 was a busy year but we were fortunate that no one was injured as the land continued to slip and slide away.    

Slow-slip earthquakes: when the earth moves very slowly

In 2015, our slow-slip earthquakes didn’t prove very exciting, as there were two slow-slip events that went on without any acknowledgement.

In Manawatu, a slow-slip earthquake started in mid-2014 and continued for the first half of 2015. Land around Manawatu moved up to 15cm to the east, which is about the length of a Crunchie bar.

In June of 2015 there was also a small slow-slip earthquake offshore of Gisborne. Land in this area is very slowly being pushed west by the colliding tectonic plates. However, land movement reversed direction for around a month and our stations moved 5-10 cm to the east. The amount of movement pales in comparison to the previous slow-slip earthquake in the area, where land moved up to 30 cm. This pattern of large slow-slip earthquakes interspersed by one or two smaller ones is a constant pattern for this area since these were discovered in the early 2000s.

Tsunami: long distance water hug from Chile

GeoNet responded to one tsunami last year – generated by a magnitude 8.3 earthquake off the coast of Chile. The tsunami experts panel estimated wave heights between 0.2-1m for much of the East Coast and the Chatham Islands, necessitating the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management to issue a beach and marine threat, that was in place for nearly 24 hours.

The resulting tsunami was consistent with the panel’s estimates, with the Chatham Islands receiving the largest wave heights – close to 1m. The maximum tsunami height on the East Coast of the mainland was closer to 50cm. Although 50cm doesn’t sound like much, it’s important to remember this is not a single wave, but a surge of water travelling faster than we can run.

In summary, thanks for the affection, Chile, but we’d prefer no more water hugs from you. While we are at it, we don’t want any from you either, Hikurangi Subduction Zone.

Best cam shot of the year:


And that’s it! 2015 was a quieter year than the year before…but we like quiet years. But just because 2015 was quieter, it does not mean that 2016 will be the same. 


Here are a few helpful places to get more info about preparing for emergencies:

  • Get Ready, Get Thru (Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management)
  • Get earthquake ready (EQC)
  • Live on the East Coast of the North Island? Check out the new East Coast's all about earthquakes, tsunami, and what you can do to prepare on the East Coast of the North Island




As announced by Google New Zealand last week, we have been able to distribute our quake information even further thanks to our partnership with Google Public Alerts. Notifications can be received on Android smartphones, or the details found using Google Search or Google Maps on other devices or desktops.

Besides the basic facts, you will also get a map showing the region likely to have been most affected, the likely impacts, and recommended advice from the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management about what to do during and after an earthquake.

GeoNet is the latest of a number of organisations across the globe that contribute their alerts. These include weather, fire and public safety messages. What these alerts have in common is that they use a messaging standard called CAP (Common Alerting Protocol). Details of GeoNet's quake CAP feed are documented at our new API service. This is our go-to place for all of our services related to web and mobile content – watch it grow! Thanks to our funding agency EQC, these data resources remain free to use by anyone.

GeoNet News Issue 21

The latest issue of our newsletter "GeoNet News" is released today.


GeoNet News 21.pdf (1.49Mb)

Featuring: GeoNet Quake app gets new features, The South Island's shaky start to the year, Ngauruhoe unrest tests the revised volcano alert system, White Island landslide hazard, Strong-motion renewal keeps GeoNet ready, Mystery device emerges at Lauder.


Previous issues can be found on the archives page.

GeoNet: A Year in Review

As 2014 winds down and we are only a few hours away from 2015, it’s a great time to reflect on the challenges Mother Nature has thrown at GeoNet and how we responded to those challenges. In Sara Page’s fantastic Shaken, Not Stirred Blog , she broke the year down by numbers. We are going to take you behind the numbers and illustrate what these meant for GeoNet, the events that you saw and perhaps a few events you weren’t aware of.

A snapshot of earthquakes in 2014


The year started off with a bang with a magnitude 6.2 near Eketahuna on 20 January. With such an early large quake, here at GeoNet we were bracing for another seismically busy year. Since 2009, New Zealand has had a string of large earthquakes and associated aftershock sequences. But it turned out that the Eketahuna quake was the biggest earthquake, in terms of impact and felt reports, this year. The largest quake, in terms of magnitude, was the 6.5 off the north east coast, near Gisborne.


After a positively explosive previous two years with plenty of activity, volcanoes quietened down again this year. Te Maari crater, part of Tongariro, continued to de-gas away but without the more extreme eruptions from 2012. White Island had erupted several times during 2013, and was at a state of heightened unrest throughout 2014, although this decreased throughout the year.  Ruapehu also remained relatively at rest this year.

The Monowai Volcano

The most active volcanoes this year were ones you couldn’t see. Monowai, one of our submarine volcanoes approximately 1500 km north-north-east of Auckland, has been erupting often during the past year. The last few days have provided some stunning examples of undersea volcanic activity with the eruption breaking the surface of the South Pacific Ocean in Tonga. We’ll continue to help monitor this volcano as it continues to erupt.


Our landslide team was pretty active this year, with large landslides created by the Eketahuna quake in January, as well as the usual weather events creating havoc around the country. The Dart River Landslide also further developed during January 2014. One of the more interesting landslides this year was the Aoraki/Mount Cook rockfall in July. This rare event damaged a Department of Conservation hut.


This year was a quiet one for tsunami monitoring in New Zealand with only one advisory. But there were big changes in the Pacific Tsunami Warning System and for New Zealand. These changes were inspired by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004; last week marked its 10 year anniversary. Read Ken Gledhill’s Science in Action blog to find out how GeoNet has made changes to our system since that fateful day.

The Silent Earthquakes

One of the most intriguing phenomenon to be studied during the last decade is the slow slip event or SSE. We often refer to these as “silent earthquakes”.  A couple of slow slip events were recorded on our GPS network this year. The slow slip event off the coast of Kapiti is ongoing; it has been moving for 18 months or so. Gisborne experienced its own slow slip event this year, which lasted approximately five weeks, moving the coast about three centimetres further east.

Changes to the System

While our volcanoes were quieter this year, we were active behind the scenes, developing better ways to communicate what our volcanoes were up to. The big change during the year was the adoption of a revised Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) system for New Zeland. A Volcanic Alert Level system was first developed before the Ruapehu eruptions of 1995, and had since been used for eruptions at Ruapehu, White Island, Raoul Island and Tongariro (Te Maari). That system was reviewed between 2010 and 2014 as part of a research project that looked at improving the communication of information about volcanic activity.

The new Quake App

Another new system went live this year: the Tongariro Eruption Detection System or TEDS. This system notifies us that an eruption has occurred within seconds. The small, but unfortunately fatal, eruption of Ontake volcano in Japan in September illustrates the potential consequences of small unpredictable eruptions. Once we get this warning, we notify the Department of Conservation (DoC), who then coordinate a rapid response. This system owned and operated by DoC but built on GeoNet equipment and infrastructure and supported by GNS Science.

We also updated our popular GeoNet Quake app. With some more features in the pipeline, we are still looking for testers on the Android platform.

The Best Cam Shot Award Goes to…

We get some…interesting cam pictures from time to time, especially from the intrepid volunteers on Raoul Island. This year, we thought we’d make an award out of it, given the amount of pics that were taken on the island. So…the best cam shot of the year award goes to:

The mysterious Raoul Island Fern Goddesses!

The Raoul Island Fern Goddesses

The Raoul Island Fern Goddesses

And that was the year that was 2014. It may have seemed a bit quiet to some people but we have been busy behind the scenes, improving, tweaking and enjoying running the GeoNet project for  you.

Thanks for your support this year and here is wishing everyone a safe and happy 2015!

GeoNet News Issue 20

The latest issue of our newsletter "GeoNet News" is released today.

GeoNet News 20.pdf (5.97Mb)

Featuring: Social media and disaster information, New Zealand's revised Volcanic Alert Level system, Hillary Ridge rock avalanche, Dart River / Te Horo Landslide, Monitoring remote crater lakes from space.


Previous issues can be found on the archives page.

GeoNet has recently expanded its Auckland data centre presence by obtaining additional space at a major telecommunications hub in Kingston Street, Auckland. Dave Campbell and Robert Pearce finished up the last of the hardware installation earlier this week.

This will allow the project to obtain higher-quality access to third party networks, both to access data from our instruments around New Zealand and to better utilise offshore cloud services. It also gives us increased network bandwidth diversity, thereby increasing the resiliency of the project.

Since the beginning of GeoNet in 2001, our backup site for data centre activities and networking has been GNS Science's Wairakei office. Moving much of the core communications infrastructure to Auckland while lowering the footprint at Wairakei also allows quicker and more reliable access to our equipment should an unexpected issue arise, especially as same-day support from our suppliers has been unobtainable at Wairakei.

What does this mean for you? You shouldn't notice a thing: that means it's working!

GeoNet News Issue 19

The latest issue of our newsletter "GeoNet News" is released today.

GeoNet News 19.pdf (1.05Mb) 

Featuring: Collecting Data from Mt. Ruapehu, Cook Strait Quakes: An Update, Eketahuna Earthquake, Volcano Update, Recent Additions to the Website.


Previous issues can be found on the archives page.

We've changed our 'felt quakes' list on the website so you can search out the big quakes in your region.

Since the start of the Cook Strait earthquake sequence, the most common feedback we've had about the website was that a list of 30 felt quakes was not enough. During New Zealand's normal background level of earthquakes a list of 30 felt quakes for a region will span days to weeks. But when there are a flurry of aftershocks like we've been having around Seddon and the Cook Strait, the list of 30 felt quakes may only cover a few hours.

We understand that if you're in bed or out and about and you feel an earthquake you still want to be able to find it on our website, and you'd like to easily revisit the significant quakes.

Check out the changes we've made to the felt lists for the regions around the country, there are examples in the figures on the right. You can now select the minimum intensity of the earthquake that you want to look at, so weeding out the smaller or more distant quakes. The list includes up to 30 quakes in your chosen category, going back one year.

One interesting feature about the pages is the list of quakes you will see. Not only will it show quakes in your own region but it will have earthquakes that could have been felt somewhere in your region but occurred in a different region. An example is in the screenshot to the right of the current list of felt earthquakes in Auckland - the large M6.5 Seddon quake is in the list as it's region intensity for Auckland and Northland is weak.

A couple of weeks ago we also added searchable maps to the website, again letting you turn off and on different intensity earthquakes.

GeoNet News Issue 18
The latest issue of our newsletter "GeoNet News" is released today.

GeoNet News 18.pdf (1.12Mb)

Featuring: Cook Strait Quakes, Our Volcanoes: An Update, Canterbury Seismic Network, Waimangu Crater Lakes and Our Earliest Earthquake Record Keeper.


Previous issues can be found on the archives page

GeoNet is a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science.

about | contact | privacy | disclaimer | mobile

GeoNet content is copyright GNS Science and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand License