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New Zealand's recent spate of earthquakes 'not unusual' and not connected - expert

New Zealand has been rocked by a number of earthquakes in the past week, but one expert says it is “nothing unusual”.

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GNS seismologist John Ristau says NZ is one of the more seismically active countries in the world. Source: Breakfast

Yesterday, Hawke’s Bay saw a 4.1 magnitude earthquake, on Saturday a light 3.2 magnitude quake rattled Christchurch and on Friday a larger 7.4 earthquake hit around 700 kilometres off the coast of Gisborne.

GNS seismologist John Ristau says there’s nothing new to worry about.

“There’s nothing unusual going on in New Zealand that doesn’t happen all the time,” says Dr Ristau.

“New Zealand just gets earthquakes all the time and that’s just part and parcel of New Zealand sitting directly over top of the boundary between two huge tectonic plates that are crashing together and moving side-by-side past each other."

Compared to the rest of the world, Dr Ristau says New Zealand is “one of the more seismically active countries”.

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“So we do get our fair share of earthquakes and a lot more than most other places in the world.

“In the last year we’ve located over 20,000 earthquakes in New Zealand in the offshore region."

Though, he says, the vast majority of those earthquakes are magnitude 1 and 2 - far too small for people to actually feel.

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“But we probably have 200-300 every year that people feel and the one, I guess, nice advantage is that most of the bigger ones occur offshore so that tends to mitigate the damage they might do.”

Dr Ristau says it's just a coincidence that there have been a number of earthquakes within a few days of each other.

“Aside from the larger tectonic picture of New Zealand sitting on top of this plate boundary, there is no connection.”