Large Subduction Thrust Earthquake Shakes Southern New Zealand



At 9:22 P.M. local time on 15 July 2009, the largest earthquake in New Zealand in the past 80 years occurred in the southern Fiordland subduction zone of the country's South Island. The Mw 7.6 earthquake ruptured the interface between the subducting Australian plate and the overlying Pacific plate, with the deeper end of the rupture underlying the coast of Fiordland, a sparsely populated region in the southwestern corner of the South Island. The proximity of the rupture to land, together with the recent deployment of seismographs and continuous Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in Fiordland as part of the GeoNet project run by GNS Science (, ensures an abundance of recordings close to the rupture. As a result, this event promises to be one of the better recorded subduction thrust earthquakes to date.