New Zealand cliffs collapse in earthquake

A Valentine’s Day quake struck the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, causing cliffs along the beach to collapse.

Beaches to the east of the city were busy with swimmers and surfers when rocks began to fall into the sea. One Christchurch resident describes walking along the beach when the cliffs began to collapse, telling reporters that the ground went soft and people began to sink down to their ankles as water came up over the sand. Everything shook for about 20 seconds before it was over.

Although the quake was classified as severe at almost 6 on the Richter magnitude scale, no serious damage or fatalities were reported. Unlike the deadly earthquake in February 2011, which destroyed the city centre and left 185 people dead.

Residents of Christchurch are clearly no strangers to earthquakes. New Zealand lies on the notorious Ring of Fire. This is a line circling almost the entire Pacific Rim that experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Nearly 90% of all earthquakes on our planet occur along the Ring of Fire, and 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth can be found here.

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