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3/26/2007

Quake swarm raises fears of 'big one' in Matata

Breaking Seismic News: New Zealand
A swarm of earthquakes accompanied by alarming bangs is rocking Matata, raising fears a big one may be about to strike. Another quake hit the area at 5.58am this morning. Early yesterday another quake, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, shook homes. More than 150 tremors have been recorded in the Bay of Plenty town this month. GNS Science says the swarm is not necessarily a sign a giant quake is coming, but is warning residents not to be lax. The current swarm in Matata is the latest threat to the tiny coastal town, much of which was destroyed by floods and landslides in May 2005. Many of the quakes, including yesterday's, were accompanied by a loud bang. "You hear the bang first and then you feel the rumble and things start shaking." The bang or crack before the quakes was the "P wave", when sound in rock reaches the surface and becomes sound in the air. Matata has experienced earthquake swarms on and off since 2005 and the current quakes were small, measuring between 3 and 4 on the Richter scale. In 1987 (20 years ago this month) the magnitude 6.1 Edgecumbe earthquake hit the area and warped rail lines, levelled houses and destroyed a dairy factory. It also opened up a faultline several kilometres long. Violent shaking was felt in nearby Matata and swarms of quakes shook the area before it struck.
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