19 Jan 2009

Earthquake jolts remote Kermadec Islands

3:42 pm on 19 January 2009

A big earthquake struck the remote Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand on Monday.

The United States Geological Survey reports that the quake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck at 2.11am, 80 kilometres south of Raoul Island.

It was registered at a shallow depth of just 10km. No tsunami warning was issued.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are common in the area, which is part of the "Ring of Fire" where the Pacific plate of the earth's crust meets other continental plates.

In the past four months, tremors of 7.3, 6.7, 6.5 and 6.0 have been recorded in the area, 1,000km north of New Zealand.

The Kermadec Islands are uninhabited apart from Raoul, where the Department of Conservation maintains a field station.

Department of Conservation staff on Raoul Island felt the earthquake but reported no damage to any equipment at the base.

Tim Brandenburg from the department's Warkworth office said eight workers are on the island.

He said earthquakes happen frequently in the area.

Two years ago, department worker Mark Kearney, 33, was killed when a volcano on Raoul Island erupted during an earthquake.