2 Feb 2016

Earthquake shakes North Island

9:37 am on 2 February 2016

A large earthquake in the ocean off Whakatane has shaken the North Island.

no caption

The quake struck about 850km north-east of Whakatane. Graphic: GeoNet

The earthquake was some distance away, about 850km north-east of Whakatane, but because of its size was widely felt, GNS seismologist Caroline Holden said. It was at a depth of 370km.

There was a flurry of reports on the GeoNet website just after 8am including of shallow 5.3 and 5.0 quakes near Murupara.

But Ms Holden told Morning Report the large earthquake offshore had "confused" the network of seismic sensors in New Zealand.

"The reason for all this shaking was one very large quite distant earthquake.

"The shaking would have been felt rather gently but it's quite a large magnitude earthquake ... and so it did send quite a little bit of shaking across the North Island."

The United States Geological Service (USGS) had recorded the quake as a 5.8 tremor, but GNS has since reviewed the magnitude and has assessed it as a 6.6 earthquake.

"Earthquakes in this area are ... very, very common," Ms Holden said.

The depth of the quake meant there was unlikely to be a large aftershock sequence, and there was no tsunami danger, she said.