A fourth earthquake has stuck off the coast of New Zealand as the country braces for more intense tremors over the coming days.
The 6.1 magnitude quake struck 140km east of Te Araroa, off the North Island, at a depth of 33km at around 1.14pm on Saturday.
More than 1,000 residents felt the shake with moderate tremors, according to GeoNet.
The 6.1-maginitude quake struck 140km east of Te Araroa, off the North Island, at a depth of 33km at around 1.14pm on Saturday (pictured)
Papamoa Beach residents wait on the top of a hill after authorities issued a tsunami alert
The moderate quake follows a number of weaker earthquakes that were felt overnight and on Saturday morning.
An hour before the large quake, two smaller quakes measuring 4.6-magnitude and 5.6-magnitude also struck the east coast.
Locals quickly reported their experiences on social media.
‘That definitely got the heart going! Was hoping it wasn’t going to get worse,’ one person wrote on Twitter.
‘Lots of shaking over here in New Zealand. I keep getting earthquake notifications which I set for 6.0 and higher,’ another woman wrote.
More than 1,000 residents felt the 6.1 shake with moderate tremors, according to GeoNet (pictured)
Locals have described waking up in the early hours of the morning to a ‘very long, swaying shake’ and houses making ‘cracking sounds’ (pictured, residents on high ground at Whangarei)
Following the 6.1 earthquake, a number of weak quakes ranging from 4.5-5.0 magnitude shook the east of Te Araroa within minutes of each other in the late afternoon.
Scientists warned that New Zealand was ‘very likely’ to be struck by major aftershocks of magnitude 7.0 to 7.9 in the coming days.
On the Richter scale, 7.9 is a major earthquake that can inflict serious damage and generate tsunamis.
Scientists from New Zealand’s government advisory service GeoNet warned it is ‘very likely’ that the North Island’s East Cape will suffer strong aftershocks over the next month.
‘This includes the potential for earthquakes in the M7.0-M7.9 range (more than 80 per cent probability within the next 30 days),’ GeoNet’s website warned on Friday.
The warning comes after a series of strong tremors rocked the North Island on Friday.
Aftershocks up to 5.6 magnitude have been striking about 174km northeast of Gisborne, NZ, as of Friday night (pictured: the US Geological Service monitor). New Zealand’s northern region is now on high alert for more major earthquakes and tsunamis
New Zealanders scrambled to high ground at Whangerei after they were texted an emergency alert on Friday
Three major earthquakes struck early on Friday morning sending New Zealanders scrambling
A 8.1 magnitude shock – of the largest to hit the South Pacific in modern times – struck the Kermadec Islands 800km northeast of New Zealand early on Friday morning, sending panicked North Islanders scurrying for higher ground in fear of a tsunami.
NEW ZEALAND AFTERSHOCK SCENARIOS
NZ Government advisory service GeoNet says aftershocks will hit the northeast of NZ and the central Kermadec Islands over the next 30 days. The likely scenarios are:
Magnitude 7.0 to 7.9: Up to 90% probable
A quake of this size is strong, destructive and may cause tsunamis
Magnitude 8.0: Up to 15 per cent probability but more likely to strike the Kermadecs than near the East Cape of NZ
A magnitude 8.0 earthquake is a major event that can destroy a community if it strikes close and shallow
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people was a magnitude 6.3 that struck 6.7km southeast of the city at a depth of 6km
A catastrophic magnitude 8.5 or higher: tiny 1% chance
Source: GeoNet website
It was the third and largest shock in a series of three, following a 7.4 in the same region and a 7.2 that hit 174km northeast of Gisborne, NZ, at a depth of 20.8km.
Scores of aftershocks ranging from 5.0 to 6.2 on the Richter scale have since struck the Kermadecs as of Friday night, according to the US Geological Service which monitors earthquakes worldwide.
More than 10 aftershocks ranging from magnitude 4.4 to 5.6 have struck the East Cape region northeast of Gisborne.
GeoNet reminded New Zealanders to drop, cover and hold during the shaking when a major earthquake strikes.
‘As soon as the shaking stops, move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible,’ the website read.
GeoNet worked out the likelihood of three scenarios in the wake of the major quake.
‘We recognise these events are dramatic and unsettling for many people,’ GeoNet said.
‘While we do not know for certain what will happen next … we do have some statistical models that help us know what could happen next.’
GeoNet’s forecast models gave a 90 per cent likelihood that aftershocks will hit New Zealand’s northeast and the central Kermadecs in the next few days, decreasing in frequency over the next 30 days.
That includes an 80 per cent likelihood of a strong and damaging earthquake of magnitude 7.0 to 7.9, although this is more likely to hit near the central Kermadecs, GeoNet said.
The agency gave a smaller chance – 15 per cent – of a destructive 8.0 quake striking the central Kermadecs and a smaller possibility this could hit the East Cape region.
A magnitude 8.0 earthquake is a major event that can destroy a community if it strikes close and shallow.
The US Geological Service showed more than 20 aftershocks have hit the Kermadec Islands, most between magnitude 5.0 to 6.2 since Friday morning’s major 8.1 earthquake. Most are striking at a shallow depth of 10km
The map shared by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern showing how many people had reported the quake in New Zealand, with more reports in darker-brown areas
Residents chose to flee Whangerei by foot with some locals seen taking their pets with them after three large earthquakes hit on Friday morning
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people was a magnitude 6.3 that struck 6.7km southeast of the city at a depth of 6km.
There is a tiny but frightening 1 per cent chance of a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or greater being triggered within the next 30 days by the recent seismic activity, GeoNet said.
‘Although it is still extremely unlikely, the chances of this occurring have increased since the M8.1 earthquake,’ the agency said.