How is earthquake data measured, computed and published ?

Geonet, The New Zealand governmental office who publishes earthquake information, released a very good describing article how an earthquake is measured, monitored, computed etc.
Earthquake-Report.com has a constant interest in explaining the background of earthquake numbers for his readers. We hope that this article will clarify a number of issues concerning earthquakes.

To make rapid locations of earthquakes GeoNet operates a country-wide network of seismic stations that transmit their data to the GeoNet Data Management Centre (DMC) where it is analysed by automated processes. If the automated processes detect an earthquake the Duty Response Team is notified and if the Duty Officer confirms that the earthquake is real and significant, the earthquake information is released.

The seismic stations operated by GeoNet consist of a seismometer and a seismograph. A seismometer is a sensitive instrument that generates a small electrical current in response to ground shaking. The electrical current is digitised by the seismograph and transmitted continuously to the DMC in real time. This digital recording of ground shaking is the raw data used to make earthquake locations. The seismic stations are supplemented by a network of strong-motion seismographs, which only transmit data whenever they detect a higher level of shaking, typically from earthquakes that will have been felt by the public.

The real-time seismic data is received by the DMC data reception computers located at Avalon (Lower Hutt) and Wairakei (near Taupo) and analysed automatically for possible earthquakes. The computer processes look for ground shaking that is distinct from the normal background activity (such as that caused by weather and oceans) and may be associated with an earthquake. These occurrences are called detections. If a detection is deemed significant, then the relevant portion of the data is parcelled up and sent to the DMC data analysis computers. They store all the detected earthquake data, grouping the detections from different stations into earthquake data sets. The detections are examined for P (primary) and S (secondary) wave arrivals from the earthquake, and the times of these arrivals are inverted against seismic velocity models for the earth to yield the best location for the event. The magnitude of the earthquake is determined at a station by measuring the maximum amplitude of the seismic signals, and relating them to the distance of the station from the event, together with the characteristics of the seismometer and seismograph. The magnitudes from all available stations are then averaged to give an overall value for the event.

It also provides locally recorded data from global earthquakes to the International Seismological Centre in the United Kingdom, and preliminary earthquake information to the National Earthquake Information Center, part of the United States Geological Survey responsible for locating major earthquakes worldwide. The waveform data and the located hypocentres are freely available to the worldwide community of researchers through the Resources section of this website.

Courtesy Geonet and GNS Science – Link to the original article of Geonet – GNS Science

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Improved New Zealand tsunami monitoring system in place

The likely impact of tsunami on New Zealand’s coastline is now better understood following the completion of a major project to install sea level monitoring devices.

Sea level gauges have been installed at 17 sites around New Zealand and offshore islands. Pressure sensors at the gauges measure any significant change in the sea level, with data being transmitted in real time to GNS Science’s GeoNet data management centre.

GNS Science assesses the data and advises the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) about the level of threat posed by tsunami. MCDEM is responsible for managing the response to any threat, which may include issuing public warnings.

The tsunami network project, led by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), now forms an important component of a wider tsunami monitoring system for New Zealand and across the Pacific.

Graeme Blick, Chief Geodesist at LINZ, said the project was initiated following the devastating Boxing Day 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, caused by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. Waves up to 1 metre in height were recorded at sites around New Zealand 18 to 25 hours after the earthquake occurred, highlighting New Zealand’s vulnerability to tsunami.

Mr Blick said the installation took five years to complete, and was made more challenging by the rough and rugged environment in which the sea level gauges were installed, and the long process of obtaining approvals and consents. The last sensor was installed in July 2010.

Agencies involved included GNS Science, MCDEM, NIWA, MORST, Waikato University and consultancy firm URS, as well as Australian agencies involved in the development of a similar network there.

“The fact the network was completed on time and within budget is testament to the cooperative effort that went in to the project,” Mr Blick said.

GNS Science worked closely with LINZ, providing technical expertise throughout the installation phase. Dr Ken Gledhill, Geohazards Monitoring Manager for GNS Science, said the project was a great example of collaboration across the public and private sectors.

Over the past 150 years, New Zealand has experienced about 10 tsunami higher than 5 metres, which can put people and property at risk. Large earthquakes can have devastating effects, both on land and water, Dr Gledhill said, as the people of Christchurch can testify.

“Since installation of the network began in 2005, several large regional and distant earthquakes have generated tsunami,” he said. “The network has successfully detected these, including the 2009 Samoan and 2010 Chilean earthquakes and the resulting waves that hit our coastline.” (Source : GNS Science)

Picture “Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.”

Huge Tsunami preparedness exercise in New Zealand today

tsunami sign

Image by bookish in north park via Flickr

On the exception of Canterbury, because of the recent traumatic earthquake,  New Zealand’s will test it’s ability to respond to a massive tsunami on Wednesday.

More than 100 agencies nationwide will take part in the exercise.
New Zealand will test the new updated national tsunami advisory and warning plan.

The revised plan makes use of new scientific modeling from GNS Science that allows for distinct threat warnings to be issued for 43 coastal zones.

“It is a good example of how science can help response to an emergency,” he added.

Exercise Tangaroa, named for the god of the sea, rivers, lakes and all life within them, will begin with a simulated Pacific Tsunami Warning Center alert that a major tsunami may have been created by an earthquake off the coast of South America.

National warnings, clearly labeled as simulation messages, will be issued by the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management to the National Crisis Management Center and agencies throughout the country.

Participants include all 16 regional civil defense emergency management groups, most local authorities, central government departments, emergency services, scientific agencies, welfare organizations, utilities, the transport sector and some media.

Read more here

Strong aftershock shakes Christchurch, New Zealand

Akaroa, New Zealand

Akaroa peninsula - Image via Wikipedia

Earthquake Report comment :
The aftershock had a Magnitude of 5.2 following USGS and 5.0 following GNS Science.
Epicenter was at 30 km east of Darfield and near the original epicenter of the massive 7.1 earthquake who struck the area at September 4. Since that data many hunderds of aftershocks have rattled the greater Christchurch area (more than 1,000 if we count also the very small ones).
Very near the Akaroa peninsula.
Today’s aftershock was among the most powerful so far.
1640 people reported so far that they had felt the earthquake.
Most of them experienced a Modified Marcalli of IV (moderate shaking).
166 experienced a strong shaking (Mercalli V).
Today’s aftershock was the strongest since 4 weeks. These aftershocks can go on for many more months. So far, no damage or injuries have been reported.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 5.2 USGS
Monday, October 04, 2010 at 10:21:50 PM (22:21) at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 9.8 km
Geo-location(s) :
20 km (10 miles) W of Christchurch, New Zealand
30 km east of Darfield

Links to important maps
GNS Science  Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
Geonet LIVE seismograph recording of this earthquake (valid for another 20 hours after publication of this article)

QuakeSOS has been developed to help actively people who are caught in an earthquake + delivers "Earthquake Report" information on your iPhoneQuakeSOS is a FREE iPhone application developed by Armand Vervaeck, the creator and main contributor to Earthquake Report. The Application simplifies immediate group communication to friends and family members (with your exact GPS location) and is constantly feeding the users with “Earthquake Report” news. Together with your own family and friends, QuakeSOS will be your closest earthquake friend.

Christchurch Earthquake : the impressive list of 265 aftershocks

Seismograph cutout of aftershocks on September 12

Geonet, the website offering the GNS Science earthquake information has produced a list with all aftershocks in the Canterbury region since the massive earthquake on the night of September 4 in Darfield.
Every link in the list will bring you to the detailed report of the specific quake.
We have ranked the list by Magnitude NOT by date and hour.
The list goes from September 4, 4:35 AM until September 17, 3 AM

The bad news : 266 earthquakes in total (including the first M 7.1)
The good news : Since the major shocks of M 7.1 and M 7.4, the maximum value was 5.4 (very powerful but with minimal additional damage or injuries).
More good news : a lot of buildings have since been stabilized with less chance to collapse if a more powerful aftershock would strike.

Important : if you do feel an aftershock, check our ‘live’ seismograph page or check it at the Geonetwebsite

[GeoNet] Mag. 7.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 7.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 5.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 5.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 5.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 5.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 5.0 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 4.9 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 3.9 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
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[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.4 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.3 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.2 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.1 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.0 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.0 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 3.0 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.9 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.8 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.6 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.6 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.6 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz
[GeoNet] Mag. 2.5 earthquake, Canterbury region, New Zealand eqnews at geonet.org.nz

About Geonet : The GeoNet project is core funded by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and is being designed, installed and operated by GNS Science on behalf of EQC and all New Zealanders.

Christchurch massive earthquake : more news from the quake area …

Christchurch Earthquake

Image by annzstream via Flickr

Link to the first part and second part of our reporting who starts just a couple of minutes after the earthquake struck.

Update 11:07 UTC (September 5) :
Numerous aftershocks  since the Magnitude 7.0 main quake  from September 4  (local time). Earthquake-report.com published a live aftershock article a couple of hours ago.
The seismogram gives a very good idea what people of Canterbury and Christchurch are experiencing at this moment.
– Read also the latest Reuters Alert report, with a lot more details on this earthquake.
– A small gesture of a dairy farmer made a big difference just after the quake. Read this heart warming article.
– The earthquake, high winds and fresh snow has triggered at least 12 quite large avalanches at Mount Hutt, the  Canterbury skiing area.
– Authorities warn Canterbury inhabitants to be careful with their drinking water as the complete water distribution system has got a lot of damage and some parts maybe polluted.
– As the sewage system is seriously damaged too, people were asked to keep flushing toilets to a minimum.
– Rain may force more people to evacuate from their damaged houses

Update 16:44 UTC : A powerful aftershock with a Magnitude of 4.8 struck at 4:06 AM (local time) 10 km south of Coalgate. These aftershocks are normal after such a powerful earthquake. As the tectonic plates will try to find a stabilization, the complete area is now at risk for aftershocks. The shallow depth will probably be the same. The epicenter of this aftershock is a lot more to the south of the original epicenter.
People did send Felt reports to GNS Science with a maximum of 6 MM = strong shaking

Update 23:00 UTC : The Salvation army is appealing for cash donations to strengthen its fast response. Within hours of the disaster, the Salvation Army was asked to feed around 1,000 people in at least 2 Christchurch locations. There will be a multitude of needs in the following days.
– Freephone 0800 53 00 00
– Donate online at salvationarmy.org.nz

Update 23:35 UTC : – About 15% or 60 streets are still without water. 
The trauma of the earthquake may continue for weeks or even months, says a psychologist.
– A lot of chimneys are very unstable
– scientists were very surprised, as the epicenter revealed a new faultline in an not previously known as potentially dangerous.
– State of Emergency is extended at least until Wednesday
– Christchurch Eastern suburbs are the hardest hit by Saturday’s earthquake
– Some Darfield residents, closest to the epicenter,  were thinking that a train was riding into their house.
– The port of Lyttelton sustained tens of millions of dollars of damage
– Heavy rain is now threatening Waimakariri, north of Christchurch, where residents are already dealing with contaminated water
– Emergency services are prepared to evacuate more people if the weather turns bad as expected

Caren Shrubshall just wrote in our Facebook page  : Here’s the latest update from Christchurch City Council – what an amazing effort – I have to say I’m very impressed with how quickly most services have been able to be restored, in most places – we’re very lucky. http://www.ccc.govt.nz/thecouncil/newsmedia/mediareleases/index.aspx

September 6, 2010

Damaged Christchurch offices after the earthquake (Twitpic)

Update 08:23 UTC : A lot more aftershocks since our latest update, although scary for the local people the Magnitudes were very moderate.  Since 8 AM this morning (local time) at least 15 aftershocks of a magnitude greater than 3.0 have been registered.  5 of the shocks had magnitudes in between 4.0 and 4.5
Check our LIVE AFTERSHOCKS PAGE for more information.

Update 13:04 UTC : 2 powerful aftershocks. Click here for our separate report.
GNS Scientists have made a flyover of the 22 km long (now detected) fault line. The video explains what is going on in the earth’s crust during such a missive earthquake. Click here for our detailed page.
– On Monday companies started to cleanup the rubble.
– Donations are starting to pour in
– Port of Lyttelton was back in full operation on Monday after an extensive assessment by engineers.

Update 22:03 UTC (10:03 AM local 07/09) : – Christchurch residents are urged to keep boiling tap water
Scientist do not rule out that Auckland may also be struck by a major earthquake as New Zealand as a whole lies in a dangerous fault zone area
Metallica, the world famous Rock band does not want to postpone his concert on September 21 and 22 in the CBS Canterbury Arena.  The band decided to go ahead with the 2 sold-out concerts
– A lot of people were kept awake by the M 5.4 aftershock who hit at 3:30 AM

Earthquake-report.com was one of the first blogs in the world to report in-depth about this massive earthquake. Follow us on twitter or in Facebook for this and future events.

Building on the corner of St Asaph and Barbadoes Streets in Christchurch, damaged in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake - Wikimedia

Most important Earthquake Data (final numbers after multiple recalculations by scientists):
Saturday, September 04, 2010 at 04:35:46 AM at epicenter (south of Darfield)
Depth (Hypocenter) : 5 km
Geo-location(s) :
44 km (27 miles) W (273°) from Christchurch, New Zealand
200 km (124 miles) S (169°) from Westport, New Zealand

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS Pager map (impact on population)

* GDACS (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System) provides near real-time alerts about natural disasters around the world. GDACS is a Joint Initiative of the United Nations and the European Commission

QuakeSOS has been developed to help actively people who are caught in an earthquake + delivers "Earthquake Report" information on your iPhoneQuakeSOS is a FREE iPhone application developed by Armand Vervaeck, the creator and main contributor to Earthquake Report. The Application simplifies immediate group communication to friends and family members (with your exact GPS location) and is constantly feeding the users with “Earthquake Report” news. Together with your own family and friends, QuakeSOS will be your closest earthquake friend.

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