Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Earthquake Watch

Seismic Activity in NZ:
Last Saturday as millions of Americans were getting ready to start their Labor Day weekend, New Zealand was hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake just outside of Christchurch.  Many of my wonderful family and friends sent emails and messages to make sure I was ok (thank you).  But on the North Island we didn't even feel it.

What's incredible is that three days later the area is still feeling the aftershocks.  This morning a 5.3 aftershock shook the area at 7:50am.  At the office we get regular updates because we have a warehouse located just outside the city.  Apparently over 300 aftershocks have occurred since the original quake.  Imagine how that would affect a person.  You wouldn't be able to sleep and you are constantly worried about when the next quake will hit, where you might be and what kind of damage it will do this time.

The media isn't sensationalizing the event, in fact, from what I hear we aren't even hearing about the worst of the damage.  But it has monopolized the newscasts since it occurred and will probably continue for at least the rest of the week.

Even more amazing still is that there haven't been any casualties, as of yet.  (By comparison, a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti killed more than 200,000 in January 2010).  In true Kiwi fashion everyone is really stepping up to help out the people that have suffered from the event.  And in true Jessica fashion, I have to restrain myself from getting in my car and heading to where all the action is taking place.  I had a similar urge after Hurricane Katrina in the United States.  Like then, I'll probably have to settle for reading about everything from a distance.

I started looking into earthquakes in New Zealand and found out that they are quite a common occurrence.  Here are a few of the facts I uncovered:
  • Over three hundred 4.0-4.9 magnitude earthquakes occur each year - that's approximately 1 per day
  • On average a 7.0-7.9 magnitude earthquake occurs once every three years.
  • The last major earthquake was last year in Dusky Sound (7.8).  In 2007 an offshore quake collapsed buildings in the Gisborne down town area (6.8).  The largest earthquake prior to that occurred in 1987.
And cool websites:
Our own warehouse in Christchurch has passed structural engineering inspections of the building and the shelving on the inside, but we made out well.  Below are pictures from a warehouse of food that was heavily damaged by the quake.

A food warehouse near Christchurch.
Another shot of the food warehouse.
 Things to be thankful for:
- A solid foundation in Auckland (or at least one that doesn't shake quite as close to the earth's surface)
- A talent for being just close enough to the action is happening without being in danger
- Never a dull moment in the land of adventure

I received an email today from a co-worker in Christchurch.  Here was her description:

"It has been, and still is, a very nervous time for us all but we are supporting each other and the continuing contact and support is helping keep morale and spirits up as each of us know of someone who has lost everything.

Although it is difficult to put into words I thought I would try and give you some idea what it was like. If you do any boating/ sailing at all it was like being at sea in a 60 knot gale in a 10 metre yacht being tossed around but we were in a house that was moving like that with the walls moving in and out!! The noise was incredible! Very very scary!"

This mornings paper has the following statistics:
  • There have been 355 aftershocks since Saturday.
  • The 5.1 one at 7:49am yesterday was only 6 kilometres deep and situated between the Lyttelton Road Tunnel and Hillsborough - practically underneath our warehouse!!
  • Saturday - 39 minutes of tremors - 5 above 5.0 magnitude and 20 between 4.0 and 5.0; Sunday - 49 minutes; Monday - 40 min; Tuesday- 21 min.; Wednesday - 20 min; Thursday - already 7 shakes today (at 9:20am) with 3 between 4 & 5 magnitude

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