The terrifying and enigmatic earthquakes that struck New Zealand last weekend were powerful enough to cause part of the seafloor to lift up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) into the air. Although this doesn’t mean that the entire country has tilted upwards by this amount, the fact that this sort of uplift has been seen at all is truly remarkable.
As is most clearly seen near Kaikoura, one of the worst hit towns and very close to the mainshock’s epicenter, entire stretches of the east coast have risen up through the sand. As reported by BuzzFeed, the landscape there now looks quite dramatically different, and plenty of local residents cannot quite believe what they’ve seen.
Dr Joshu Mountjoy, a marine geologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), told the Sydney Morning Herald that this feature was the first of its kind that he, or his colleagues, had ever seen.
“I've never seen it before during an earthquake and it's the first time we've seen something like this,” he said.
The town has been partly evacuated following the 7.8M quake and its powerful aftershocks. Plenty of property was damaged, and it’s been reported that two people have died when their houses collapsed. At present, the sewage system there is still malfunctioning, and access to the settlement by road is hampered due to heavily warped and cracked roads.
At the time of writing, the country is still experiencing aftershocks, and there’s a roughly 32 percent chance that another 7.0M quake will take place within the next month or so.