Deadly New Zealand quake hopscotched across faults | Science News


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Deadly New Zealand quake hopscotched across faults

The 2016 quake jumped farther than thought possible

2:38pm, March 23, 2017
New Zealand road

SHAKE UP  A magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand last year altered the landscape. The temblor jumped between two faults thought to be too far apart for a quake to cross, new research shows.

A seemingly impossible earthquake that rattled New Zealand last November casts doubt on how well seismologists can forecast quakes involving multiple fault lines.

Retracing the path of the magnitude 7.8 temblor using satellite and seismic data, researchers discovered that the earthquake involved at least 12 major faults and was far more widespread and powerful than predicted by seismic hazard assessments at the time. Such assessments are crucial to designing buildings that can withstand potential earthquakes.

In total, the November 14 quake released pent-up energy along more than 170 kilometers of faults, including faults thought to be too spread out for a rupture to jump from one to the other, the researchers report online March 23 in Science.

“This crazy event showed us just how little we knew,” says study coauthor Ian Hamling, a geophysicist at GNS Science in

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