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How much do the Wellington fault lines move?

The Wellington Fault between Hawkins hill and Wrights hill.

The Wellington Fault between Hawkins hill and Wrights hill.

Major faults in the Wellington Region move mainly sideways, with some up or down displacement as well. Scientists describe them as ‘oblique dextral strike-slip’ faults, which means that if you look across the fault, the ground on the far side will move to the right, as well as a bit up or down!

In New Zealand's biggest historic 'quake in 1855, The Wairarapa Fault moved about 15 metres sideways and about 6 metres vertically! As a result of this great earthquake, the whole Wellington region was severely shaken, uplifted and tilted to the west. In fact, the land and sea floor near the harbour rose up about 1 - 1.5 metres.

When the Wellington Fault next ruptures it is expected to cause about 4 – 6 m of dextral strike-slip, as well as a variable but lesser amount of vertical displacement – some areas will experience uplift, but others, like the Hutt Valley, may subside (sink) by about a metre.