Scientists are about to get an unprecedented look at the one of the largest "slow-slip" earthquakes ever observed in New Zealand – and what they learn could help forecast future shakes.

Only discovered in recent times, slow slip events are silent, slow-burning earthquakes that can displace faults over days or months.

By contrast, in a typical earthquake, fault movement occurs over a matter of seconds, unleashing an instant surge of energy.

Slow quakes have been found to unfold particularly around the sprawling plate boundary to the east of the country that is the Hikurangi Subduction Zone.

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Scientists have watched them

'Slow-Slip Central'

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Quake mystery