New Zealand ranks among the most active seismic
places on earth: earthquakes occur there frequently and continuously.
Along with volcanism, seismic activity is the
product of plate tectonics: New Zealand lies on the active
boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.
Earthquakes and tectonic activity result from
movements of the earth's crust along active faults. Some of
Zealand's currently active faults, such as the Alpine Fault,
are among the world's major geological features.
Along these faults earthquakes
occur very frequently, although most are not strong enough to
be felt. Many others, although felt, do not result in any damage.
However New Zealand has also a history of severe destruction
and injury caused by more powerful earthquakes.
Earthquakes and other movements of the earth's
crust have occurred throughout New Zealand's geological history.
This tectonic activity has been one of the controlling
factors in the development of landforms in New Zealand.
Mountain ranges, many lakes, coastlines, are some of the most
distinctive landforms directly resulting from tectonic activity
in New Zealand.