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    New Zealand Fault Line Discovered


    by NTDTelevision

    Scientists in New Zealand are studying a fault line they think may be more than 16,000 years old.

    Clearly visible from a helicopter, the scratch-like marks across these green pastures near Christchurch stretch for more than 20 kilometers.

    This fault line is where the earth ripped apart causing the nation's recent 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Scientists say it's centuries old.

    [Dr. Kelvin Berryman, Geological and Nuclear Sciences]:
    "Well, at least 16,000 years, because that's how old the geological formations are for which we can see that there is no prior movement, so it is at least 16,000 years. Who knows how much longer? So, it is quite a surprise event in specific detail."

    The damage from last week's quake was significant, resulting in toppled buildings and widespread power outages.

    Scientists say heretofore unknown geographical occurrences are becoming more the norm.

    [Dr. Kelvin Berryman, Geological and Nuclear Sciences]:
    "Undoubtedly, it has been an interesting time in the last ten or 20 years, or even around the world. The large earthquakes that occurred have not been often occurred on the expected faults. They have occurred on the ones we were expecting to be long return periods, so we are in a phase around the world at the moment (that) the unexpected seems to be happening."

    There were no deaths caused by the earthquake, but officials in Christchurch have extended a state of emergency until more of the damage is under control.