According to official data from the US Geological Survey website, a strong earthquake struck Christchurch at 12:51pm local time and measured 6.3 on the official Richter scale.
Reports of the quake first surfaced on Twitter feeds across the web, with early tweets calling it ‘massive’. Some twitterers threw numbers like 8.0 about; which instead of helping people - can sometimes do the opposite and cause a great deal of unnecessary panic when these disasters happen. Regardless of the official number, it's still a tragic disaster for the people of New Zealand.
It's best not to mince words when it comes to earthquakes. According to the official Richter magnitude scale:
It’s interesting to note that it took at least twenty minutes before an official figure was sourced and posted on Twitter – an example of how social media doesn’t always get it right when something big breaks (which is understandable, given the confusion happening).
A number of Geological websites have seismic data available for Christchurch (including this very interesting link to the Christchurch Quake Map), but most of the local sites have not yet updated. The most current and official site for everything Earthquake related is the USGS.gov site – which has all the latest seismic info and more importantly – it’s all up to date.