- Earthquakes happen every day in New Zealand.
- Instruments record the ground shaking from over 14,000 earthquakes in and around the country each year.
- Most are too small to be noticed, but between 150 and 200 are big enough to be felt.
- Earthquakes are most frequent in regions where two moving plates meet and press against each other.
- New Zealand is in such a region – it straddles the boundary between the Pacific Plate, which covers almost a quarter of the earth’s surface, and the Australian Plate.
- Earthquakes usually occur along faults, which are existing fractures in the crust. Sometimes the blocks of rock on either side of a fault abruptly shift to a new position in just a few seconds.
- This sudden release of energy sends out waves, which are felt on the surface as an earthquake.
- The strength of the quake depends on the area of fault that has shifted and the amount of movement.