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The New Zealand Landforms
TECTONICS AND EARTHQUAKES

 


Lake Waikaremoana, in Urewera National Park, was created when a wedge of sandstone and siltstone slid down from the south-western end of the Ngamoko Range, thus damming the Waikaretaheke River. The landslide was probably caused by an earthquake. Photo courtesy Hawkes Bay tourism.

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 New 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.

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