This evening I attended a lecture by geologist Dr Mark Quigley from the University of Canterbury. He’s featured a lot on the news lately, and gave an interesting and funny talk on the science behind the quakes and his personal experiences. We arrived at the University to discover a rather large queue of people waiting for the doors to open to the theatre, so we just missed out on seats at the main lecture theatre where Mark was talking, but we got seats at the ‘overflow’ theatre (the lecture was streamed into the theatre on a large screen) – and there was another overflow theatre for that one! People were even turned away due to the fire risk of having people standing in the aisles (oh and what about the earthquake risk – now that would have been ironic!).
Not surprising really that it was so popular, as everyone wants to know just when the after shocks will stop. I didn’t understand all of the ‘sciencey’ stuff but from what I did pick up, it seems we could be getting aftershocks for at least another 8 months! Yikes – better get used to them then. The good news is that the intensity and frequency will decrease (well that’s what they have seen with other 7.0 + quakes). However, it seems that Christchurch is being kind of ‘special’ with the number of 5.0 aftershocks we keep getting. I also learned that there is a 15 to 30% chance that the Alpine fault will go in the next 50 years (that’s the fault that runs 400km down the West Coast of the South Island). It could generate an 8.0 earthquake – which would be quite devastating for the towns on the West Coast, and would probably feel like a ‘7.0’ quake in Christchurch – except it might last for about 3 minutes because the fault line is so long. But don’t bother moving to another part of New Zealand – there’s nowhere that is ‘quake free’ – that’s what you get when you live on a tectonic plate boundary!