9 Jan 2014

NZ 'likely' target for giant quake

8:52 pm on 9 January 2014

A team of scientists has published research they say show where giant earthquakes are most likely to strike - including off the east coast of New Zealand.

The team's leader, Wouter Schellart from Monash University in Melbourne, says quakes mostly occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates when they rub together.

However, Professor Schellart says quakes of magnitude 9 and over happen only in "subduction zones", where one plate sinks below another into the earth's interior.

The team has created a global map showing which plate boundaries are most likely to produce these massive quakes, including an area off the east coast of New Zealand, AAP reports.

The other zones are in Indonesia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Greece.

Professor Schellart and Professor Nick Rawlinson, from the University of Aberdeen, have been working on the research since 2009.

In 2004, a giant earthquake off Sumatra in Indonesia on 26 December triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.