Home / Learning / Science Topics / Earthquakes / Major Faults in New Zealand / Wellington Fault / How do we know which fault is most likely to rupture next in Wellington?

How do we know which fault is most likely to rupture next in Wellington?

The Wairarapa fault

The Wairarapa fault

The reality is that we don’t know for sure which fault is going to rupture next. However we can estimate probabilities based on continuous monitoring and our knowledge of fault rupture histories. We know there are five major faults in Wellington.

The Wairarapa Fault ruptured in 1855 generating an earthquake of about magnitude 8.2. This fault has a recurrence interval of 1150–1200 years.

The Ohariu Fault ruptured about 1100–1200 years ago, and has a recurrence interval of 1500–5000 years.

The Wairau Fault last ruptured more than 800 years ago and has a recurrence interval of 1000–2300 years.

Shepherds Gully Fault last ruptured about 1200 years ago and has a recurrence interval of 2500–5000 years.

The Wellington Fault last ruptured between 300 and 500 years ago with a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. This fault produces a large earthquake about every 500 to 1000 years.

This is how we deduce that the Wellington Fault has the highest probability of rupturing next in the Wellington region.