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More than 150 people reported feeling a magnitude 2.8 earthquake just outside Oamaru yesterday morning.
GeoNet duty seismologist Elizabeth Abbott said the earthquake, near Weston Park at 12.48am, did not last for very long, but 153 reports had been made to GeoNet.
One person from Timaru reported having felt the quake, but the majority of reports came from Oamaru and described it as "weak".
Given its relatively small size it would have gone unnoticed usually, but because it occurred 8km under Oamaru it was felt more intensely, Ms Abbott said.
Another reason was the softness of the rock and soil, as people with homes on softer soil would feel the earthquake more intensely.
An estimated 10 to 15 earthquakes had occurred in the area over the past 10 years, of which the strongest was 3.8.
"New Zealand is a highly active tectonic area, and although eastern Otago had a low seismicity, earthquakes can happen anywhere and at anytime.
Aftershocks were not expected because of the quake’s size, but people should always be prepared, she said.
- Ruby Heyward