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Earthquakes at a Plate Boundary

An earthquake is a sudden motion or trembling in the crust caused by the abrupt release of accumulated stress along a fault, a break in the Earth’s crust.

The ‘Ring of Fire’ shows the position of the New Zealand continent within a zone of intense seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean. Black dots mark the epicentres of all earthquakes recorded from 1964 to 1999. The most intense earthquake activity is where subduction is taking place, but there is some earthquake activity along the mid-ocean ridges and above mantle ‘hot-spots’

The ‘Ring of Fire’ shows the position of the New Zealand continent within a zone of intense seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean. Black dots mark the epicentres of all earthquakes recorded from 1964 to 1999. The most intense earthquake activity is where subduction is taking place, but there is some earthquake activity along the mid-ocean ridges and above mantle ‘hot-spots’

Earthquakes in New Zealand occur because we are located on the boundary of two of the world’s major tectonic plates – the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate.

These plates are colliding with huge force, causing one to slowly grind over, under or alongside the other. As the brittle crust gives way under the pressure, a fault ruptures and an earthquake is unleashed. To find out how volcanoes are also formed along the plate boundary go here.

As violent and horrific as they can be, earthquakes have helped create New Zealand’s varied landscape through complex processes of mountain building and erosion.

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