Another one today.
Thousands jolted by major 6.4 Canterbury earthquake
Last updated 09:24 06/01/2015
MYLES HUME AND AIMEE GULLIVER
Trains from Christchurch to the West Coast and down to Oamaru have been cancelled as a 'scary' 6.4 magnitude quake in Canterbury jolted thousands awake before 7am today.
Scientists warn locals to brace for many aftershocks today, with some likely to be over magnitude-5.
The "severe" 6.4 magnitude earthquake which struck at 6.48am, was centred 35 kilometres north of Methven, on the western edge of the Canterbury Plains, at 10km deep.
It was the second-biggest earthquake in the region since the deadly quake of February 2011.
Dozens of aftershocks have followed but there have been few reports of damage.
The large quake was not connected to the alpine fault.
Did it wake you up? Did it cause any damage? Do you have pictures? Email [email protected]
The initial jolt was followed by a swarm of aftershocks in the area ranging in magnitude from 3.2 to 4.2, all less than 11km deep.
Geonet duty seismologist John Ristau said the aftershocks would "probably go on for a while", and there was potential for large shakes to follow today.
"We've already had a few above magnitude four, and it wouldn't be surprising for an earthquake of this size to have an aftershock above magnitude five at some point," he said.
The Arthur's Pass area had had earthquakes of a similar size in the last 100 years or so, Ristau said.
It "might be hard to notice any difference" with smaller aftershocks because smaller earthquakes in the area were not unusual.
Geonet scientist Caroline Little said it was not immediately clear if the earthquake had occurred on a major fault.
The Porters Pass fault - the most well-known in the area - looked to be the nearest to the earthquake's epicentre, but shake had occurred close to a number of others, including the Torlesse fault.
Little said it was too early to determine what had triggered this morning's earthquake, but Geonet seismologists were assessing it.
Geonet had more than 2000 reports of people having felt the earthquake.
While no damage had been reported, far, the area close to the quake's epicentre might have experienced damage such as items falling off shelves, Ristau said.
The shake was not on the alpine fault and was "quite a bit further east", Ristau said.
"With New Zealand in general, many of the earthquakes we have don't actually occur on the main faults, and that's often because New Zealand is riddled with faults."
KiwiRail said all services in the area, including the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth and all freight services, were suspended while the tracks were checked.
Railway lines were also closed between Oamaru and Christchurch, Oaro and Christchurch, along with the Midland and Stillwater lines as track inspections took place.
Freight services on these lines have been suspended. Bus replacements were being provided for passengers of the TranzAlpine service.
The Coastal Pacific service was running although this had been delayed about 90 minutes.
Services would resume once the lines have been inspected and safety clearance has been given.
TranzAlpine passenger Paul Blake said KiwiRail staff had told people they would be travelling by bus from Christchurch to Greymouth due to track damage.
Blake said KiwiRail staff were helpful, and that he had been offered a choice of getting a refund, rebooking, or a replacement bus journey.
A KiwiRail spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the damage, as officials were meeting to discuss the earthquake and its impact on train operations.
West Coast and Darfield police were on their way to Arthur's Pass as a precaution, a police spokesman said.
Police had not received any reports of damage or injury across Canterbury or the West Coast.
Methven chief fire officer Selwyn Allred said the station had received no reports of damage or calls from the public.
The station is one of the closest to Lake Coleridge, near the quake's epicentre.
Lake Coleridge Homestay owner Peter Low said the quake felt "pretty severe".
"It wasn't like the last big one we had, which was a real rise and fall job.
"This was more of a spongy shake, but it was pretty severe."
Low said he was yet to come across any damage.
Lake Coleridge Lodge owner Toni Barlow said the quake felt just like any other aftershock.
"It was very ordinary. Nothing has moved at our lodge and we have had a phone around the village and everyone is saying the same thing."
She said there was a little sound moments before the jolt, the house "rolled" for a couple of seconds and then it was all over.
"It was no different to us than the aftershocks after the big Christchurch earthquake."
A Lake Coleridge Lodge employee said the earthquake felt more like a jolt rather than a rolling sensation, lasting about five seconds.
"I felt it, nothing's moved and we have now all kinda moved on to tell you the truth," he said.
"To be honest it felt more like the aftershocks from Christchurch. We knew it was more than a [magnitude]-4 or something like that but I was surprised it was that high at 6.4."
Leonie Donald, who works for Methven Motor Services, said the quake appeared to cause no damage in the town and they were getting on with the day as normal.
"It wasn't very severe... nothing's fallen off the shelves."
Fire Service southern communications shift manager Riwai Grace said it had not been called to any quake-related incidents, but the West Coast area manager was going to Greymouth as a precaution.
Christchurch Transport operations centre spokeswoman Tresca Forrester said it had received no reports of road damage in Christchurch city.
A St John Ambulance spokesman said it had not received any quake-related reports nor had it had any increase in calls because of them.
As the irrigation season ramps up, some 500 mid Canterbury farmers will welcome news the 67km Rangitata Diversion Race does not appear to have sustained any damage from the quake. Chief executive Ben Curry said all systems indicated the structure held up, and that was now being backed up by checks on the ground.
Of nearly 2000 "felt reports" recorded on Geonet's website only a handful recorded the intensity as "strong". People felt it as far afield as Dunedin and New Plymouth.
Arthur's Pass Store and Cafe manager Debbie Stewart had not heard or seen reports of damage or injury, and the store itself was intact.
She initially thought of friends and family in Christchurch, believing the earthquakes may have been centred in the city again.
"It was a really good shake, enough to make your heart go," she said..
"There's nothing off the shelves, the power is on, it's just like yesterday apart from a little wake-up call in the morning."
Carole Giles, of Hawarden, north Canterbury, said she felt "a sharp shaking for three to five seconds then several rolling sensations" for about five minutes.
"Lots of creaking noises in the house and several things shaking," she said.
Reader Danyal Taylor is staying in Castle Hill, about 15km from the epicentre. She reported no damage.
"We were in bed when it happened and it lasted for about 15-20 seconds," she said.
Aaron Tily of Ashburton said it was "a scary one".
"We haven't felt anything like that for quite some time," he said.
"I was day-dreaming at the time and felt something really sharp for a couple of seconds. Nothing broke but scared me and the cat quite a bit."
Greymouth residents were woken by the earthquake but there were no immediate signs of damage.
DP1 Cafe manager Sarah Burdon said she was woken by the shake. The cancelling of the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth would see fewer people through the doors.
Robert Harris owner Julie McGeady said there was no damage or items falling from shelves but the axing of the TranzAlpine would "absolutely affect us".
As one of the closest cafes to the train station, "we can get 80 odd people off the train, if not more," McGeady said.
Tim Oram in Belfast said his bed shook and the house creaked.
One Christchurch-based Twitter user said the quake "felt like the house was at sea".
That #eqnz just felt like the house was at sea (in Christchurch) — The Queen of Cobden (@QueenofCobden) January 5, 2015
Another Twitter user reported feeling the quake in Franz Josef.
Felt that wobble in Franz Josef #eqnz — Mark English (@MarkEnglish) January 5, 2015
Cheryl Bernstein said it was an "extraordinary swaying earthquake".
West of Arthur's Pass, apparently. I've never felt one quite like that before. #eqnz — CherylBernstein (@CherylBernstein) January 5, 2015
Karen Foreman-Brown said the quake was large enough to have set off alarms in her neighbourhood.
On the Stuff.co.nz Facebook page, Jackie Cooper said she felt the earthquake in Golden Bay at the top of the island, and Dale Wedlock said he felt it in Dunedin.
Other people reported feeling the shake in Hawarden, Banks Peninsula and Papanui.
Don Gutsell said he had photos swinging at his house in Temuka.
That shake set off neighbourhood alarms #eqnz — Karen Foreman-Brown (@serenity22) January 5, 2015