Earthquake Lecture Canterbury University

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!


  • 7 years ago

    Dunedin has a lower frequency of quakes than most Sth Island towns, because the fault is on the other side of the island, and I’m reliably told that Kaitaia is pretty safe (Northland isn’t produced by uplift between two tectonic plates, the way that most of the country is, but is really just one long sandspit)

  • 7 years ago

    This darned earth of ours…keeps shaking and quaking and sometimes pouring out molten lava…I live in Mammoth Lakes California in the US…earthquake tremors are fairly frequent here and we’re even in a volcanic area (yep…it’s even considered active)…but what gorgeous country…California has lived with the threat of “the big one” for as long as I’ve lived…I pray that it continues to be a threat and not a reality!!!

    Your pictures are a poignant reminder of what can happen…our thoughts and prayers are with you all in the aftermath of such a devastating disaster…

  • 7 years ago

    Thanks Kathy – I think we can all learn from other experiences, and the best thing is to ‘be prepared’ – cos you just don’t know when. Everyone thought Wellington would be the city to get a big quake (of course it still might), but I think lots of people are very surprised that it was Christchurch (well I know I was!).

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