Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 26, 1893
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Plate XLI.

The earthquake was felt more strongly at Nelson than anywhere else. Considerable damage was done in the town and neighbourhood, and it was estimated that the total loss would not fall far short of £4,000. Many chimneys were brought down, others were twisted out of position, and, according to the Colonist of the 13th February, over one hundred were injured. In several buildings ceilings and plaster were shaken down, and walls were cracked. The spire of the Cathedral was estimated by the City Surveyor to have been 3ft. out of plumb after the earthquake. Clocks were stopped, water overflowed in jugs north and south, a large amount of crockery and some statuary were broken in private houses and in shops, and in one or two instances plate-glass windows were broken. Careful observations of the direction with compass bearings seem to have been taken, and these appear to show that the chief line of movement was from south by west to north by east. In connection with this, we may note one fact recorded—viz., that the north wall of a massive stone malt-kiln was thrown away from the ends of the east and west walls, and from the floor of the upper story, to such an extent that the malt poured down upon the lower floor through the aperture caused.

The time given by the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department was 8·2 (checked by New Zealand Mean Time); another good observation was 8·1. I have therefore taken 8·1 ½ as the actual time of the beginning of the shock at Nelson.

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The report of the Colonist newspaper, to which I am indebted for most of the above details, concludes that the shock was more severe than that of the 19th October, 1868: this is almost certainly correct—indeed, it is the most considerable earthquake felt in New Zealand since the 23rd January, 1855.

The effects noted at Wellington were well marked in character, but far less in degree of intensity than at Nelson. The most important from the point of view of the present investigation were the stopping of clocks, the ringing of bells, the cracking, and in some instances the fall, of plaster, the overthrow of movable objects, the cracking of some walls, and the fall of a few chimneys, probably already out of repair.

In the Post Office buildings pendulum-clocks at right angles to the line of shock (E. and W.) were stopped, and all the western walls where the plaster of the ceiling joins the wall were cracked, and chips of plaster deposited on the dado moulding. It is interesting to remark that the seismometer at the Museum showed a large displacement, and registered movements both from east to west and from north to south—that is, it showed both the longitudinal and transverse vibrations.

As will be seen from what follows, the velocity of propagation was much greater than the average velocity of New Zealand earthquakes; and this, coupled with the undoubted fact that the shock was a compound one, made the determination of the origin more than usually difficult. A small error in time is of far more importance with a large than with a small velocity; and when two shocks follow closely on one another, and one of them only is felt at many of the places, it becomes a matter of some difficulty to determine which shock it was that was observed at any particular place. There is, in addition, the usual amount of uncertainty as to whether the same phase of a long earthquake is referred to by different observers—all being asked to give the time of the beginning of the shock. The time put down for the apparent duration is of some service in resolving this uncertainly. Using this and the other means of checking the times given, I have set down the times at the first five places in the list (a) as of greater weight than the others. The times in this list and in the second list are stated to have been all checked by New Zealand Mean Time by the Telegraph officers, who filled up the forms supplied to them. The times in the third list (c) were not so verified.

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Place. Time of Beginning of Shock, N.Z.M.T. Apparent Direction. Apparent Duration. Effects. Remarks. Intensity Rossi-Forel Scale.
(a)Nelson A.M. 8·2,* or 8·1 N.E. to S.W., or S. by W. to N. by E. about 1 min. For remarks see p. 347 viii.+
Wellington 8·3* N.E. to S.W. 30 secs. For remarks see p. 348 vii.+
Kaikoura 8·3* N.E. to S.W. 15–20 secs. “Moderately severe,” Rumbling preceding, Crockery rattled iv.
Opunake 8·4* E. to W. N. to S. E. to W. 73 secs Very sharp: three shocks-sharpest for years. A few articles thrown from shelves iv. to v.
Christchurch 8·4 ½* E. to W. more than 1 min, Maximum between 8·5 and 8·5 ¼. Commenced with slight tremors; increased slowly to maximum; then decreased more rapidly. Crockery set in motion. One account says three distinct shocks iv.
(b)Wanganui 8·5,* or 8·3* N. to S., or S.W. to N.E. 90 secs., or 4 or 5 min. “Severe.” Broke battery-jar in officer's house. Water spilt out of washstand jugs. Mr. Field says began at 8·3 and lasted (gyratory motion) 4 or 5 minutes. Slackened and increased again three times. Began with slight rumble v, (?)
Timaru 8·4 ½* N. to S. 15–20 secs. No previous rumbling, Succession of small shocks, with rolling movement. Followed by a slighter shock ii. to iii.
Westport 8·3* S.E. to N.W. 1 min. “Severe.” Loud rumble preceding iii.+
Cambridge 8·2 ¾* S.E. to N.W. 20 secs, “Slight,” No damage iii.
Hawera 8·2* N.W. to S.E. 80 secs, “Severe,” Milk spilt out of pans iv. to v.
Helensville 8·4* S.E. to N.W. 15 secs. Slight, then sharp iii.
Blenheim 8·5 ½* E. to W. (n'rly) then heavy upheavals at right angles 50–60 secs, Clocks stopped, bells rung, crockery thrown down; several chimneys thrown down, others cracked and twisted. Time given for middle of shock vii. to viii.
Manaia 8·3* N.E. to S.W. 90 secs. “Severe” iii.+
Otaki 8·2 ½* N.E. to S.W. 20 secs. “Severe.” Clocks stopped, Preceded by loud rumbling vi.
Marton 8·1* N.E. to S.W. 35 secs, “Sharp.” Shook buildings; rattled crockery, Accom. panied by loud rumbling iv.+
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Place. Time of Beginning of Shock, N.Z.M.T. Apparent Direction. Apparent Duration. Effects. Remarks. Intensity Rossi-Forel Scale.
Greymouth A.M. 8·1* E. to W. S.E. to N.W. N. to S. 15 secs, Three movements, No rumbling. Heavy undulating motion iii, +
Hokitika 8·4* N.E. to S.W. 50 secs, “Slight, then severe,” One long shock, not two as reported. Newspaper states two smart shocks, with interval of 2 mins.; second one lasted 45 secs, iii.+
Ashburton 8·3* N.E to S.W. ab't 10 secs. “Sharp.” Double shock iii.
(c)Picton 8·2 N. to S. 40 secs, One chimney thrown down; houses shaken violently vii.+
Takaka 8·4 W. to E., (n'rly) ab't 1 min. Buildings swayed; crockery fell; milk spilt to eastward vii.
Collingwood 8·0(?) W. to E., or from slightly N. of W. 70 secs. “Sharp, followed immediately by severe.” Clocks stopped, A number of bricks shaken out of top of chimney at E. side. One outside chimney shifted 2in. Preceded by slight rumbling. Cattle frightened vii.
Karamea 8·0 (?) N.W. to S.E. ab't 100 secs. Clocks stopped vi.
Otira Gorge 8·3 E. to W. iii. to iv.
Waitara 8·5 S.W. to N.E. 2 shocks 30 secs, each Each shock very sharp, followed by rumbling, Water spilt, Lamp-glasses thrown off shelf; clocks stopped vi, +
Auckland 7·55 (?) S.E. to N.W. 15 secs, Slight. Two shocks in quick succession. Windows rattled iv.
Manukau Hds. 8·4 and 8·6 S.E. to N.W. Two slight shocks, faint rumblings accompanying iii,
Woodville 8·2 N. to S. 80 secs. iii,
Reefton 8·3 “Sharp.” Preceded and followed by tremors lasting ½ min, Some damage to crockery iii. to vi.
Palmerston N. 8(soonafter) 10 secs, “Smart” iii.
Waikato Dist.
Patea Shock felt. No details ii.
Hanmer Plains
Amberley 8·6 N.N.W. some secs. iii.
Malvern 8·10 Not severe. Preceded by long rumble
Akaroa 8·3 N. to S. iii.