Reports of a sizeable earthquake rocking Taranaki have been put down to monitoring algorithm getting its wires crossed.
A tremor with a 5.3 magnitude was reported 39 km southwest of New Plymouth in the early hours of Sunday by the website Volcano Discovery.
The quake hit at a shallow depth of 10km beneath the epicenter near New Plymouth… at 12:58 am local time.
Based on the preliminary seismic data, the quake should have been widely felt by almost everyone in the area of the epicenter. It might have caused light to moderate damage.
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But Geonet, New Zealand’s geological hazard monitoring system, was unaware of any tremor.
There have been no earthquakes of that size near Taranaki recently,” a spokeswoman wrote in a statement on Sunday.
The phantom earthquake report was based on information from Geoscience Australia, and on Monday a spokesperson across the ditch was able to clear up the confusion.
Sue Spigel was in the Christ Church Cathedral during the 2011 earthquake. A decade on, she has just been reunited with her items.
The report was a false event formed by an automatic location algorithm in our real-time earthquake monitoring system, she wrote in an emailed statement.
The formation of false events by real-time monitoring systems is a known phenomenon, where signals from different events become mis-associated with each other.
This happens more so during heightened periods of activity.
Geoscience Australia, a government science body, initially published the report on its website, but later removed it.
New Zealand has experienced several earthquakes this month, including a magnitude 8.1 tremor near the Kermadec Islands on March 5 that sparked a tsunami warning for coastal areas.
On Monday afternoon, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake rattled Gisborne.