Five years on and quakes continue

There was an awful reminder for Cantabrians last week that although a very damaging quake was five years ago it wasn’t a one off event and the after effects still dominate Christchurch.

There have been about 14,000 earthquakes in the area over that time, most centred in or close to Christchurch.

We felt the big ones in Dunedin and they were disconcerting enough but it’s easy to forget the impact on Canterbury from a distance.

Earthquakes and their aftermath are still a big deal. In many many cases nerves and finances are as frayed as the Earth’s crust seems to be.

The Press has a feature to mark this anniversary:

Five years, 14,000 quakes, and a new South Island

While Christchurch and Canterbury has been changed markedly, and a lot of renewal has been necessary, the rest of the South Island has only been affected in relatively minor ways.

The reality is that while I feel for those who have been impacted by the earthquakes, I really can’t know what it feels like for our close neighbours.

It’s easy to forget about the quakes from a distance, apart from occasional reminders like the bigger aftershocks and anniversaries.

The big two from Geonet:

  • M 6.3, Christchurch, 22 February 2011The city of Christchurch experienced a major earthquake centred south of the city; severe damage and casualties occurred.
  • M 7.1, Darfield (Canterbury), 4 September 2010The Darfield earthquake caused severe building damage in mid-Canterbury, particularly to the city of Christchurch. It revealed the existence of a hidden west-east fault under the gravels of the Canterbury Plains.

Five years ago, wow.

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14 Comments

  1. Oliver

     /  22nd February 2016

    I was there for both quakes. The quakes weren’t the problem – it was the out dated buildings. We shouldn’t be worried about earthquakes we should be worried about poorly built buildings and infrastructure.

    Reply
  2. kittycatkin

     /  22nd February 2016

    Oh, come on-you may be insensitive enough not to find these earthquakes terrifying, but most people would. There’s a limit to how well buildings can be built, and there was no reason to suppose that the 2011 quakes were coming.One can’t build roads that won’t crack or pipes that won’t burst or stop cliffs and hills collapsing. If you know how to do these things, the EQC would be glad to employ you.

    More of Oliver’s Drivels.

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  22nd February 2016

      I’ve been on the 14th or 16th floor during a long (long for an earthquake) that made the building sway around like a jelly; a Hungarian girl, new to NZ was green with shock and fear.One can’t fasten everything down-maybe in theory, but probably not in practice.So there’s always going to be that mess to clean up. I don’t know if it’s possible for houses not to be damaged when the ground opens up under them. Don’t be such a knowall, offering simplistic solutions. If it was that simple, it would be done.

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  22nd February 2016

        All the people who were killed died when the building they were in or near collapsed. We can make buildings that don’t collapse. Do you now understand what I am saying.

        Reply
        • mrMan

           /  22nd February 2016

          She hardly understands anything.

          Reply
          • kittycatkin

             /  22nd February 2016

            Asini sunt. Do you understand what that means ? I suspect that you are monolingual (that means only knowing one language-I imagine that monolingual is too long and hard a word for you to understand) I have two degrees, am a trained Adult Teacher and have learned something like nine languages-how many have you learned ? One, and that badly by the look of it.

            It’s al very well being wise after the event; anyone can do that. Nobody could have foreseen these earthquakes; those old buildings had stood unharmed since the 19th century. Do you understand that ? Yes, there was the shoddy one that was a scandal, but most of the buildings were not made by that person. This may be beyond your comprehension. The cathedral had stood for how long ? in safety.

            I don’t know how you propose making cliffs and hills that won’t collapse.

            Reply
            • kittycatkin

               /  22nd February 2016

              Poor Oliver & mr Man-assuming that you’re not the same person-you do hate anyone who’s more articulate than you and doesn’t have to resort to childish insults. Don’t bother to go on and on trying to make it seem that I have said things that I haven’t, it’s pointless, boring and I won’t be drawn into replying. You’ll be talking to yourself/ves.

            • Oliver

               /  22nd February 2016

              Kitty the article is saying that the earthquakes a cause people anxiety. But I’m saying it’s the not the earthquakes that they should be worried it, they should worry about buildings and infrastructure that are poorly made but cause that’s the killer. I know you’re only a school teacher and that English isn’t your first language, but do you understand?

            • I understand that buildings need to be reasonably quake resistant.

              But I think anyone who has experienced a significant earthquake will know how disconcerting and frightening it can be, no matter what sort of building you are in at the time.

              When a quake strikes you don’t have time to evaluate how safe the building you are in or near is.

              And it’s not economically viable to make all buildings absolutely safe.

  3. Brown

     /  22nd February 2016

    I agree with Oliver about the practical issues around the quality (or lack of) in the Chch building stock. A lot of it was rubbish. The CTV building was an exception to that in that it was a newish load of crap that all the regulations and consent requirements didn’t prevent. Also, there are some sensible rules around surviving EQ’s yet many ignored them. Panic is a big killer.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd February 2016

      True that what killed people in Christchurch was collapsing buildings and masonry, & that building to proper earthquake standards would’ve prevented that. Not one building collapsed in Tokyo, despite a long period of violent shaking, during the 2011 Tohoku 8.9 mag that caused the tsunami.

      But we should always be worried about earthquakes and aftershocks. Even if we do build to proper earthquake-resistant standards, big ones will still cause major destruction to hillsides, rivers, etc & disruption to transport links, and damage to buildings and structures that are not earthquake proof, or that simply can’t resist the movement of the ground they’re sitting on And there’s always the risk of tsunamis with the really big ones epicentred offshore or near beaches.

      I live in Wellington. There are 5 major faults here capable of delivering 8+ mag shakes, and scores of smaller faults. I take any felt earthquake epicentred around here seriously: wondering if it’ll be one that sets off any of the big Wellington, Wairarapa, Ohariu, Sheperd’s Gully or Wairau faults. The experts tell us these’d be devastating, and that we can expect a large one every 150 years – the last big one was 1855 on the Wairarapa fault.

      I wouldn’t move because of this though.There’s nowhere completely safe from them in NZ. Prediction’s impossible. Our recorded quake history shows big ones can happen anywhere. I had no idea Canterbury had an earthquake history until I researched it on. I feel for Christchurch residents every time they have another sizeable shake.

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  22nd February 2016

        What Tokyo has is a new build to a good standard. You can thank the USAF for that to some degree along with the Japanese rush to post modernism. I suspect the Japanese do not have a fixation with old and dangerous buildings that no one except the Historic places Trust idiots, who won’t go in them of course, want to see linger. There has been a resurgent push for the old lime mortar to be used because its historic yet its powder and holding nothing within about 25 years. Some of this old stuff just cannot be made safe in anything approaching an economic fashion – Wellington has one of these in Lambton Quay.

        Christchurch is doubly damned because it has a history of earthquakes but memories are short and the building in timber (because they learnt a lesson) was abandoned for brick again within a generation (those memories cease with generational death it seems).

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  22nd February 2016

          Yeah that’s true, we have brick houses here in Welly even though we should know better – so they’ll end up getting the same sort of damage as Christchurch’s. I think we’ve got some 600 non-compliant buildings in the city here. I’m not sure how much reliance I’d place on ideas or retrofitting them for compliance. Probably best to knock them down and rebuild.

          I couldn’t believe people would seriously want to rebuild the cathedral in Christchurch. Just strikes me as nuts.

          Reply
          • Brown

             /  23rd February 2016

            Yep, the cathedral is a hopeless church building with little congregational life. It should be demolished as its not fit for purpose. It is not the church’s role to provide tourist attractions.

            Reply

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