Quake Knocks New Zealand a Foot Closer to Australia

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
This image shows Seismicity readings for Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand from 1990-2000.   (United States Geological Survey)
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(Newser) – There’s nothing like a 7.8 magnitude earthquake to bring two countries together—literally. The temblor that hit New Zealand last week has shoved its southern island about 12 inches closer to Australia, TVNZ reports. That might not sound like much, but considering that New Zealand typically moves about a third of an inch per year, it’s a huge overnight shift, geologists say.

The shift also proves just how big a bullet New Zealand dodged. “New Zealand has been very fortunate,” said one geologist. “This earthquake anywhere else would have caused huge damage.”