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Powerful Quake Strikes Christchurch, NZ

Posted by feww on September 4, 2010

Collapse of NZ May Have Started

Earthquake measuring up to 7.4Mw Jolts Much of South Island, New Zealand

The quake occurred close to Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, and New Zealand’ second-largest urban area.

The mainshock was followed by at least one large aftershock measuring up to 5.5Mw.

The earthquake has caused widespread damage, but there were no reports of deaths as of posting. Two were seriously injured.

There was no report of a destructive tsunami.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker described the event as “sharp, vicious earthquake” which had caused “significant damage” in the area.

Daylight had shown that the extent of destruction was considerably more significant than initially thought, he said on NZ radio.

“There would not be a house, there would not be a family in our city that has not in some way have damage done to their person, to their property.”

“I think it’s like an iceberg; there is… below the visible line, significant structural damage,” the mayor said.


Earthquake Location Map. Source: USGS. Enhanced by FEWW


Photo by Debbie McBride: “There have been something like 30 after shocks since the quake, it’s such a horrible scary time – we feel like we are on edge and constantly moving.” More Photos …


A part of the premises of a gas station is raised at Bexley in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010.. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander). Image may be subject to copyright.

Earthquake Details:

  • Magnitude 7.0 [USGS politically revised estimate]
  • Date-Time:
    • Friday, September 03, 2010 at 16:35:46 UTC
    • Saturday, September 04, 2010 at 04:35:46 AM at epicenter
  • Location: 43.530°S, 172.120°E
  • Depth: 5 km (3.1 miles)
  • Region: SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
  • Distances:
    • 45 km (30 miles) W of Christchurch, New Zealand
    • 200 km (125 miles) SSE of Westport, New Zealand
    • 290 km (180 miles) NNE of Dunedin, New Zealand
    • 330 km (205 miles) SW of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
  • Location Uncertainty Error:  estimate not available
  • Source: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • Event ID: us2010atbj

FEWW FORECAST FOR NEW ZEALAND – POSTED ON September 30, 2008

I. Implication for New Zealand Islands:

  • A substantial increase in the frequency of earthquake striking the twin islands.
  • More earthquakes with magnitude 6 or larger.
  • A marked increased in large explosive volcanic eruptions, especially in the following zones [also include ‘extinct’ volcanoes]
    • Taupo Volcanic Zone
    • Bombay Hills
    • Auckland volcanic field
    • Mount Taranaki
    • Mt Horrible volcano
    • Mount Taranaki
    • Mount Cargill

II. Worst Case Condition for New Zealand Islands:

  • Large earthquakes and massive volcanic eruptions could potentially destroy much of New Zealand structures and claim many lives.
  • Earthquake and volcano-triggered waves could also give rise to 40 to 50-meter tsunami that would engulf the coastal areas and low-lying lands throughout New Zealand [could also affect parts of Australia’s eastern seaboard,] compounding the damage.
  • A super/mega colossal Plinian/Ultra-Plinian eruption occurring in New Zealand’s North Island simultaneously [or within a short period of time] with a magnitude 9.8 earthquake off the eastern coast of New Zealand could claim many lives.
  • Probability of occurrence:
    1. Event 1.  A magnitude 9.8 earthquake striking off the eastern coast of New Zealand with (i) the foreshocks ripping through Auckland, Hamilton, Taupo areas, (ii) the mainshock leveling Wellington, Palmerstone North, Marlborough, Nelson and Christchurch, and (iii) the aftershock causing substantial damage as far south as Invercargill: 85%
    2. Event 2. A super/ mega colossal Plinian/Ultra-Plinian eruption in the North Island: 72%  [South Island: 57%]
    3. Event 1 and Event 2 occurring simultaneously, or within a short period of time: 64 %

What New Zealand Earthquake Experts Said

Interestingly, our colleague TERRES wrote on April 13, 2009

Apparently, New Zealanders are advised by their experts not to worry about the ‘big one.’

Quakes ‘no cause for worry’
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2308107/Quakes-no-cause-for-worry

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7 Responses to “Powerful Quake Strikes Christchurch, NZ”

  1. feww said

    (AP) WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand’s South Island early Saturday and caused widespread damage, but there were just two reports of serious injuries. Looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said.

    The quake, which hit 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of the southern city of Christchurch according to the state geological agency GNS Science, shook a wide area, with some residents saying buildings had collapsed and power was severed. No tsunami alert was issued.

    GNS Science initially reported the quake as magnitude 7.4, but later downgraded it after re-examining quake records. The U.S. Geological Survey, in America, measured the quake at 7.0.

    Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker declared a state of emergency four hours after the quake rocked the region, warning people that continuing aftershocks could cause masonry to fall from damaged buildings.

    The emergency meant parts of the city would be closed off and some buildings closed as unsafe, he said.

    Minister of Civil Defense John Carter said a state of civil emergency was declared as the quake was “a significant disaster,” and army troops were on standby to assist.

    Parker said the “sharp, vicious earthquake has caused significant damage in parts of the city … with walls collapsed that have fallen into the streets.”

    Chimneys and walls had fallen from older buildings, with roads blocked, traffic lights out and power, gas and water supplies disrupted, he said.

    “The fronts of at least five buildings in the central city have collapsed and rubble is strewn across many roads,” Christchurch resident Angela Morgan told The Associated Press.

    “Roads have subsided where water mains have broken and a lot of people evacuated in panic from seaside areas for fear of a tsunami,” she said, adding that “there is quite significant damage, really, with reports that some people were trapped in damaged houses.”

    Christchurch fire service spokesman Mike Bowden said a number of people had been trapped in buildings by fallen chimneys and blocked entrances, but there were no reports of people pinned under rubble. Rescue teams were out checking premises.

    Christchurch Hospital said it had treated two men with serious injuries and a number of people with minor injuries.

    One man was hit by a falling chimney and was in serious condition in intensive care, while a second was badly cut by glass, hospital spokeswoman Michele Hider said.

    Christchurch police reported road damage in parts of the city of 400,000 people, with a series of sharp aftershocks rocking the area. Police officers cordoned off some streets where rubble was strewn about. Video showed parked cars crushed by heaps of fallen bricks, and buckled roads.

    “There is considerable damage in the central city and we’ve also had reports of looting, just shop windows broken and easy picking of displays,” Police Inspector Mike Coleman told New Zealand’s National Radio.

    Police Inspector Alf Stewart told the radio that some people had been arrested for looting.

    “We have some reports of people smashing (storefront) windows and trying to grab some property that is not theirs … we’ve got police on the streets and we’re dealing with that,” he said.

    Suburban dweller Mark O’Connell said his house was full of smashed glass, food tossed from shelves, with sets of drawers, TVs and computers tipped over.

    “She was a beauty, we were thrown from wall to wall as we tried to escape down the stairs to get to safety,” he told the AP. “It was pitch black (with the power cut) and we walked through smashed glass everywhere on the floor.”

    The quake hit at 4:35 a.m. (1635 GMT) shaking thousands of residents awake, New Zealand’s National Radio reported. Some 12 aftershocks have rocked the region since, ranging from 5.3 to 3.9 in magnitude, GNS Science reported on its web site.

    Prime Minister John Key, Carter and Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee were to fly to Christchurch to inspect damage and review the situation, officials said.

    Civil defense agency spokesman David Millar said at least six bridges in the region had been badly damaged, while the historic Empire hotel in the port town of Lyttelton was “very unstable” and in danger of collapse. Roads, shops and other buildings in rural towns around Christchurch had also suffered damage, with some shop fronts knocked down in the jolt.

    Inspector Coleman said residents of the city’s low-lying eastern suburbs had been advised to be ready to evacuate their properties, after power, gas, sewerage and water systems were cut by the quake.

    Resident Colleen Simpson said panicked residents ran into the street in their pajamas. Some buildings had collapsed, there was no power, and the mobile telephone network had failed.

    “Oh my God. There is a row of shops completely demolished right in front of me,” Simpson told the Stuff news Web site.

    Kiwirail rail transport group spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said 13 mostly freight trains had been halted on South Island lines, with some damage already confirmed to rail lines north of Christchurch.

    Christchurch International Airport was closed after the quake as a precaution, as experts checked runways and terminal buildings, a spokesman said.

    The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said “no destructive widespread tsunami threat existed, based on historical earthquake and tsunami data.”

    New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth’s crust where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.

    New Zealand’s last major earthquake was a magnitude 7.8 in South Island’s Fiordland region on July 16, 2009 — a tremblor which moved the southern tip of the country 12 inches (30 centimeters) closer to Australia, seismologist Ken Gledhill said at the time.

    Gledhill, director of GNS Science’s “GeoNet” national earthquake monitoring project, said the island’s geographic shift showed the immensity of the forces involved.

    COPYRIGHT AP

  2. Beverley helson said

    Hi- I live in chch New Zealand. Update to Wed is that we have had 130 so called aftershocks most c 4-5 on scale but the last one this morning was 6.1 but very shallow so felt like 7. latter was epicentre on Port Hills inside Lyttlton harbour volcano crator complex . Another single jolt also from there. Radio advice is all are from previously unknown fault near inland darfield Kirwee area but even in initial quake everything heaved from WEST though there were fault fractures around the stated area. WEST is direction of the volcanics until now thought to be extinct- that is Chch east city/ Port Hills/Lyttleton harbour/ Diamond harbour / akaroa ( also damaged)- ie- the entire ‘peninsula. See google earth. sulphur smell reported and sand volcanoes. Whispers the whole thing could be precursers to vulcanism but when mentioned on radio comments were cut short on talk back and called alarmist. However look at indonesia! people here extremely exhausted as quakes c every 30 mins. Angst level huge. Every quake adding to physical damage in city where infrastructure services buildings all fragile- on and off power

    • feww said

      Thanks for the update.
      We believe the worst and the cataclysmic is yet to occur, and have strongly advised our friends in New Zealand to leave the country.

  3. feww said

    Magnitude 5.2 – SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
    2010 October 04 09:21:50 UTC

    Location: 43.572°S, 172.446°E
    Depth: 9.8 km (6.1 miles)
    Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 15.7 km (9.8 miles); depth +/- 2.9 km (1.8 miles)
    Region SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
    Distances:
    20 km (10 miles) W of Christchurch, NZ
    215 km (135 miles) SSE of Westport, NZ
    300 km (185 miles) NNE of Dunedin, NZ
    315 km (195 miles) SW of WELLINGTON, NZ

    Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

  4. feww said

    Canterbury shaken by aftershocks
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10678999

  5. Natalie said

  6. K said

    Christchurch feels major after-shocks

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4495195/Christchurch-feels-major-after-shocks

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