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Islands 'Creeping' Closer Together

New Zealand islands still unsettled after 2016 earthquake
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2018 10:14 AM CST
Kayakers race across the South Island of New Zealand on Feb. 11, 2017.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

(Newser) – New Zealanders are coming together this holiday season in more ways than one. A magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck two years ago initially brought the country's North and South Islands about 16 feet closer together, and the land masses have continued to close the gap. Scientists say the distance has shrunk another 14 inches, reports the Guardian. "We are having all this creeping going on," Sigrún Hreinsdóttir of GNS Science tells Stuff, describing how Cape Campbell on South Island and Wellington on North Island are now a bit closer.

Wellington has moved about 2 inches northeast; the coastal town of Blenheim, north of Cape Campbell, has moved 6 inches east; and Kaikoura to the south moved 6 inches northeast, per Stuff. Hreinsdóttir expects the movement will continue for years but at a slowing rate. It's unclear which fault line or lines are responsible. A world-record 25 faults opened—one at a speed of roughly two miles per second—during the so-called Kaikoura quake, which GNS Science refers to as "one of the most complex earthquakes ever recorded worldwide." It raised the seabed by 6.5 feet, per CNN. (One resident said it "just kept going and going.")

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