Story: Historic earthquakes

Extent of shaking, Wairarapa earthquake, 23 January 1855

The Modified Mercalli scale (from 1 to 12) measures earthquakes by the intensity of shaking observed. Reports from historical records and diaries – including information from ships at sea – were used to compile this map. It shows the intensity of shaking during the earthquake of 23 January 1855. From an intensity of 9 close to the epicentre in the Wairarapa, the isoseismal lines radiate outwards, recording the impact over much of central New Zealand. The number of people killed is uncertain, but is estimated to be between five and nine.

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Source: G. L. Downes, Atlas of isoseismal maps of New Zealand earthquakes. Lower Hutt: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, 1995.

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How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Historic earthquakes - The 1855 Wairarapa earthquake', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 July 2024)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 28 Mar 2011, updated 1 Nov 2017