▶️ “It’s almost certainly a meteor” loud explosion over North Canterbury explained

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jul 04, 2023 |

Video: Shelley Wilson / Tuahiwi

A loud explosion heard and felt in parts of North Canterbury was “almost certainly a meteor.”

Residents reported their houses shaking from Woodend to as far north as Hanmer Springs just before 9AM on Tuesday.

Dr James Scott, who is the President of the Geoscience Society of New Zealand and an Associate Professor at the Otago Department of Geology, told Chris Lynch Media “seismic stations across Canterbury picked up the sonic boom cone, moving from Kaiapoi towards the North West.

“I would guess that there is a high chance that it dropped a meteorite, but we need camera footage of the fireball to calculate where that would be” he said.

Graphic of sonic boon “  KPOC (Kaiapoi) looks earliest / OHSS is between Kaiapoi and Christchurch city ( so south of Kaiapoi / ASHS is north-west of Kaiapoi / AMCZ is north of Kaiapoi, west of Amberley  AMBC is in Amberley ( NNE from Kaiapoi)


Dr James Scott, who is part of a network called Fireballs Aotearoa – detecting meteors, said “with meteors, they travel so fast (on the orders of km per second) that they compress the air in front of them as they pass through the atmosphere.

“On one hand, this causes the air to heat up and melt the rock – giving rise to a fireball. On the other hand, the compressed air waves must radiates out away from the meteor.

Dr James Scott, who is part of a network called Fireballs Aotearoa – detecting meteors Photo: Otago University

“This causes a sonic boom “cone” to pass over the land. So, the boom appears as a single explosion but is actually picked up by people at slightly different times as the compressed airwaves move them at slightly different times. This could be what the cameras have picked up” Professor James Scott said.

“If it was a meteor, then it clearly got in very low – this is important because it could’ve “dropped” a meteorite.

Most meteors burn up high in the atmosphere because the rocks are very small. This, then, was a significant mass.”

Video: Shane Wood / Woodend

Tuahiwi resident Shelley Wilson captured the sound of the explosion on CCTV.

Her husband Sean can been seen on camera walking outside when the explosion happened.

“What the f**k was that?” he said.

Wilson said “the boom was so loud, it felt like the windows were going to blow in. Sonic boom is a good description of how it sounded and felt.”

Video: April Muirson / Woodend

A police spokesman said police conducted area enquiries in Woodend after receiving multiple reports of a loud bang.

Enquiries were conducted in an attempt to locate the origin of a loud bang.

Police did not locate anything that may have caused the noise and have left the area.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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