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2003 Fiordland earthquake facts for kids

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2003 Fiordland earthquake
2003 Fiordland earthquake is located in New Zealand
2003 Fiordland earthquake
Magnitude 7.1 Mw
Depth 12 km
Epicenter 45°12′S 166°42′E / 45.2°S 166.7°E / -45.2; 166.7
Areas affected New Zealand, South Island
Casualties None

The 2003 Fiordland earthquake struck the remote region of Fiordland in the South Island of New Zealand on 22 August 2003 at 0.12 am. The epicentre was 12 km deep, and was thought to be near Secretary Island at the entrance to Doubtful Sound. This was the same location as an earthquake of 6.7 Ms magnitude on 10 August 1993.

At 7.2 Ms magnitude it was one of the largest quakes in the country for some time, and was the largest shallow quake since the 1968 Inangahua earthquake. There was an aftershock two hours later at 2.12 am, followed over several days by frequent small tremors; up to 21 September there were 6365 aftershocks.

Fiordland is one of the seismically active parts of the country according to GNS seismologist Dr Warwick Smith, as they are a relief mechanism for stresses as the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates are being forced together in the area, with the Pacific Plate subducting under the Australian Plate.

In August 2004 there was another large earthquake of magnitude 7.1 MW in Fiordland.


At Te Anau some 70 km to the south-east residents felt the quake strongly and items fell off shelves in shops and homes. Some of the pupils at Te Anau Primary School felt "weird" or "scared".

A team of geologists led by Ian Turnbull went to investigate and reported "landsliding on a large scale". They recorded at least 200 landslides after overflying seventy percent of central and western Fiordland.

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