Dunedin’s Russell Garbutt contacted What if? this morning after news of the disaster in Canterbury. He says:

At the beginning of the year I wrote a piece for publication and sent it to the Listener, North and South and New Zealand Geographic. The subject was earthquakes and what was likely to happen in the event of a major movement on the Alpine Fault. As it happens, I was talking to a member of the Geology Department on Friday and he had just returned from Christchurch and the Coast working on exactly that – he said on Wednesday that a major movement was due “now”.

The recent earthquakes in Haiti, Samoa and Chile, and the continuing relatively small earthquakes in and around New Zealand should remind us all of our own vulnerability when it comes to the “big one”. Perhaps more importantly, these events should determine what actions we collectively should be taking to minimise the after-effects of the inevitable major damage that will be caused when it arrives. It certainly should cause us to examine what those public bodies that are responsible for dealing with the after effects of “the big one” have planned, and what influences that man-made structures on our waterways have had in modifying the natural ebb and flow of the effects of erosion and aggradation of our high country. Continues after the break

Some facts that we should all be aware of:
• The New Zealand Alpine Fault is one of the world’s most prominent and active fault lines
• The East Coast of the South Island is part of one of the earth’s tectonic plates
• The West Coast of the South Island is part of another plate
• The Southern Alps have grown 20,000 metres over the last 25 million years, but have eroded most of this growth away
• Much of the erosion of the high country ends up on the beaches of our coasts
• The Alpine Fault is due to move in a major way
• All of the above will impact upon us, or our children, and how will we continue to live in the “shaky isles”.

The New Zealand Alpine Fault is part of the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean. This “Ring of Fire” is the perimeter of the huge Pacific tectonic plate that extends from New Zealand across the eastern Pacific to the western coast of the USA, Alaska, across to the eastern Japanese coast, down through Indonesia and then back to New Zealand via some of the Pacific Islands. There are 15 major plates that cover the surface of the earth and they float on the earth’s mantle, much like the skin on a pot of simmering jam. The plates are in fairly constant movement and this movement leads to tectonic activity where plates collide or move in respect to each other. The activity can be volcanic, seismic, or both. Countries that are in the middle of these plates, such as Australia, are largely isolated from earthquakes or volcanic activity. The number of earthquakes that New Zealand experience in a year as a result of being on the junction of two major plates may come as some surprise, but the norm is about 15,000 with about 250 of them large enough to be felt. They are all recorded by GeoNet and can be viewed on their website – usually within an hour of the event.

Follow latest New Zealand quakes at and Twitter @geonet

Christchurch Quake Map www.christchurchquakemap

The East Coast of the South Island sits on the Pacific tectonic plate and is dominated by large rivers that drain the inner Alpine regions and associated large alluvial plains. Nowhere else on earth are so many large braided rivers. These rivers transport vast quantities of rock, gravel, sand and clay to the East Coast and after heavy storms in the high country the amount of debris that is transported by each river is vast. Rocks get tumbled down the river, are reduced to stones then to gravel and finally to sand or clay and are transported out to sea with some of the debris coming back to land to form beaches and sand dunes. The other huge contributor to this debris is land-slips and erosion. But for the most part, the eastern side of the Alps has a much lower rainfall than the west and this fact can lead to some serious consequences after a major seismic event.

The West Coast of the South Island, which sits on the Australian Plate, has two distinctive features that separate it from the East. The first is the huge difference in rainfall. On the Coast, annual rainfall is measured in metres of rainfall per year, and when you consider that a metre of rain over a hectare weighs some 10,000 tonnes, some idea of how much rain falls in a year can be imagined. Parts of the Coast receive over 10 metres of rain per year equating to 100,000 tonnes of water per hectare, while the average towards the Tasman may be a third of this figure. This prodigious rainfall has rivers flowing regularly at high rates. There is little opportunity for rocks or sand to hang around for any long periods of time. The other distinctive feature is that the landscape is largely bush covered and there is little distance between the mountains and the Tasman Sea. Rivers are consequently steep and there is much less braiding in the shorter distance between mountains and the Tasman Sea.

The Southern Alps seem a fairly constant part of our landscape, but in reality, they are prodigious growers. As the Pacific Plate collides with its neighbouring Australian Plate the boundary between the two plates is thickened, crumpled and forced upwards. The amount of uplift is huge, and was perhaps best described by Abel Tasman’s description of the South Island as “a great land uplifted high”. Over the last 25 million years the Southern Alps have been pushed up well over 60,000 feet or 20,000 metres. Unless erosion at a similar rate to the amount of uplift had been occurring over this period, New Zealand would have also been home to the world’s highest mountains. Over this period of time all of this uplifted material has, for the most part, been carried down to the sea by the waterways on either coast. What must be appreciated is that while erosion is sometimes a gradual and constant process, the main erosion occurs in spurts of intense activity. This is where the New Zealand Alpine Fault comes in.

The New Zealand Alpine fault which stretches 650km from Fiordland to North Westland, is known to have been the host of five events of about Force 8 magnitude where the effects have either been observed or can be measured geologically. The dates that can be provided for past events are circa 1350, 1475, 1615, 1725 and 1826. Using these dates, published in the recent “Hostile Shores” by Dr Bruce McFadgen, the interval between major movements coming forward in time, has been 125 years, 140 years, 110 years, and 101 years. The average gap between major movements over these 660 years has been 119 years. Using this average, another major Alpine Fault movement could have been anticipated in 1945. In other words, we are overdue by some 65 years, although if the longest gap of 140 years is used, we are overdue by only 44 years. Other scientists may put these average gaps slightly higher, but the broad acceptance is that major movements on the Alpine Fault are both regular and of high magnitude. The message should be that while major movements cannot be accurately predicted, history shows that they occur moderately regularly and the current gap of 184 years is larger than any other gap in our recorded past. All present research shows that the tension along the Alpine Fault is reaching a point where the rocks along a very significant part of the fault will suddenly fracture and a major seismic event will occur. It is not a case of “if”, it is a case of “when”.

When the Alpine Fault moves it not only causes the above-mentioned crumpling and uplifting at the boundary, but the West Coast also slides northeast relative to the East Coast. The amount of this movement is also prodigious. It wasn’t until 1952, when Harold Wellman’s map showed for the first time that there was a match between rocks in Marlborough on the western side of the fault, and rocks in Otago on the eastern side of the fault, that proved that the land either side of the fault had shifted almost 500km over 25 million years – a movement about the same rate as your finger nails grow. But as has been pointed out, the movement is not continual or gradual – little or nothing happens for many years, and then there is a big and sudden movement.

So, how big a movement could be expected?

It is generally agreed between geologists from all round New Zealand that a Force 8 event would result in an 8 metre horizontal displacement and a 4 metre vertical displacement along the fault. Previous major events of this magnitude have resulted in movements of this degree. To put this into perspective, the 1968 Inangahua earthquake was a magnitude 7, but a magnitude 8 quake will release 30 times more energy. The immediate effects of this type of movement will be catastrophic the closer to the fracture area of the fault. Structures such as bridges, communications and roads and railways will be severely affected many hundreds of kilometres distant from the fault. It is likely that despite strong earthquake codes, that there will be significant loss of life if buildings collapse during the violent shaking. But the biggest effect will be landslips and other earth movements such as liquefaction. Countless millions of cubic metres of mountain sides will fall into valleys and waterways. On the West Coast, this debris will be rapidly swept to the sea by means of the huge rainfall. On the eastern side of the Alps it is possible or likely that the displaced debris will be stored in the high country until there is sufficient rainfall to start to carry it down the braided rivers to the Pacific Ocean. A magnitude 7 earthquake in Peru in 1970 killed about 80,000 people when a major landslip occurred that sent millions of cubic metres of rock, ice, water rushing at over 100mph down over towns on the side of the collapsed mountain, but the many millions of cubic metres of landslip debris didn’t get washed to the Coast until the El Nino storms of 1972. Within a further two years this debris was evident along the adjacent coastlines as newly formed sand dunes.

Liquefaction occurs in areas where the underlying land can be likened to a freshly lain pile of wet concrete. Wet concrete will stay as it is until it is shaken and then it will settle quickly with water rising to the surface and heavy objects settling into the now liquid goop. Many of the alluvial plains of the east coast such as the Canterbury Plains will, when violently shaken with a strong earthquake, undergo such liquefaction. The effects of shaking are amplified through such underlying geology and buildings and underground utilities such as sewers and water piping can either rapidly sink underground or, in some circumstances be forced out of the ground.

With all this background, it is worthwhile to examine what effects we have made on our landscape that has modified this natural sequence of events. There are four factors that immediately spring to mind:
• Firstly, the immediate area around the Alpine Fault continues to be sparsely populated,
• Some pockets of areas close to the Alpine Fault are densely populated,
• We have a major city on an area which will be subject to liquefaction,
• We have put artificial barriers across waterways which have already affected our natural landscape along our coastline.

Unlike areas such as Peru or Haiti, New Zealand does not have major cities or towns on the Alpine Fault. Much of Fiordland and Westland is relatively sparsely populated, but the effects of a Magnitude 8 earthquake along the fault will not be confined to the valleys and peaks of the high country. Such an earthquake will be felt over the entire South Island and will cause damage over many areas a long way from the long epicentre. It is anticipated that structural damage would occur as far away as Dunedin. It is also true that while the Alpine Fault ends in the north of the South Island, Wellington sits across the Wellington Fault which is a major splinter fault of the Alpine Fault. It would be hard to believe that Wellington would be insulated from a magnitude 8 event on the Alpine Fault and in reality, it should be expected that considerable damage would also result in our capital city.

Some areas such as Queenstown, Te Anau, and Wanaka on the eastern side of the fault, and the towns of the West Coast on the western side of the fault would be severely shaken. Structures on hillsides could fail, and there seems to be no doubt that infrastructure such as bridges, roads and railways would be severely damaged or destroyed. Cellphone towers and power to them would be compromised or destroyed and power and telephone lines would be bought down over very wide areas.

Christchurch lies on an alluvial plain which could undergo amplification of the effects of a major earthquake with liquefaction affecting many major structures.

Rivers in the South Island act as huge flushing agents for the debris created by such events as a major earthquake on the Alpine Fault and largely have been left unhindered by man. But there are some notable exceptions. The biggest of these would be the Clutha River which is fed by two major river systems. Lake Wanaka is drained by the Clutha and is joined at Cromwell by the Kawarau which drains both Lake Wakatipu and the waters of the Shotover River. It is this latter river which is responsible for much of the debris that comes from the Otago hinterland.

The Shotover has its headwaters deep within the area most likely to be severely affected by landslips. This river or its many contributories would be filled with debris from countless landslips and the immediate effect of this will be the damming of sections of the river, new watercourses being formed, and a large amount of debris entering the waterway. The Kawarau will transport this debris down to the confluence with the Clutha, and as soon as the waterflow speed reduces at the start of Lake Dunstan, the debris will start to fall out of suspension in the water and will start to fill the lake. This will happen because of the hydro-electric dam at Clyde.

But this is not the only dam on the Clutha.

Before the Clyde dam was constructed, the dam at Roxburgh acted in a similar way and over the 37 years between the completion of the Roxburgh dam and the Clyde dam was completed, sand and gravel that would have normally been carried down to the East Coast was trapped behind the Roxburgh dam – mainly where the water speed dropped to a point where it could no longer support the sediment. Residents of Alexandra will no doubt be aware of the creation of such sand bars near the confluence of the Manuherika just below Alexandra. It is also interesting to note where these vast quantities of sand from perhaps a series of landslips far up Skippers Creek would have ended up prior to the construction of the dams on the Clutha.

The geological records from previous major aggradation caused by previous Alpine Fault movements show that a lot of the sand ended up on the beaches of Coastal Otago north of the mouth of the Clutha. A short time after each big earthquake in the past, the debris was carried down the Shotover and Kawarau rivers into the Clutha and what did not get washed out to sea was carried north along the coast line by the coastal current and washed up on the beaches. The lovely white sands of St Clair and the beaches north round into Blueskin Bay have, for their most part, their origins in the quartz of the rocks of Central Otago.

This natural draining of the hinterland, and the consequent replenishment of the coastal sands was effectively bought to a halt when the Roxburgh dam was built in 1956, and it should not be a surprise that the beaches of Coastal Otago have since that time undergone some change with much concern being expressed about possible sea incursions near Middle Beach. But this change is minimal compared to what will happen when the major event on the Alpine Fault occurs in the future. The relatively small amounts of debris now coming down behind Lake Dunstan will be dwarfed by what will flow into the lake after that event. Already the lake has shallowed dramatically where the Kawarau enters the lake and it can only be imagined what the lake will look like when countless cubic metres of gravel, sand and clay comes down the river in the first storm after the big event.

It is not at all clear just who has the responsibility for dealing with the consequences of the next major Alpine Fault event. Government will be responsible for many remedial works through national agencies, but it will also be up to local and regional Councils to deal with local emergencies and remedial works. What interests me is who will be responsible for ensuring that the mighty waterways of our region are able to handle transporting the vast quantities of sand to the sea. Initial indications are that it seems that it will be up to the dam operators who have this responsibility but it is hard to see how they are equipped to do so, or what plans they, or the Regional Council have, to dispose of these millions of cubic metres of gravel, sand and clay.

One thing is for sure – collectively we should be aware of the inevitability of the next Alpine Fault movement and what we need to do to be prepared for it.


Related Posts and Comments:
15.3.11 Christchurch heritage buildings approved for demolition #eqnz
10.3.11 ‘Owners of older buildings warned’ – ODT
9.3.11 Dunedin earthquake proneness
8.3.11 Prophetic 1996 #EQNZ ChCh Doco
5.3.11 Large aftershock hits CHCH #eqnz
4.3.11 Reaction to another instance of unthinking ad-hocism from City Hall
22.2.11 Earthquake, Christchurch #eqnz Day 1
21.2.11 The proactive heritage development lobby EXISTS in Dunedin
19.2.11 Dunedin, are you ‘of a mind’ to protect Historic Heritage?
14.2.11 Earthquake proneness

Post by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Construction, Economics, Geography, Heritage, People, Politics, Project management, Town planning, Urban design

83 responses to “Earthquake

  1. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Sat, 4 Sep 2010
    Reservoir cracks prompt review
    By Chris Morris
    Dunedin’s Ross Creek reservoir dam could be decommissioned, after cracks wider than a fist were discovered in the 143-year-old structure. The cracks in the earth dam’s embankment were discovered by Dunedin City Council staff inspecting the structure, in the Glenleith area of North Dunedin, following torrential rain in May.

    Asked if people downstream should have been informed, Council city environment general manager Tony Avery replied: “What would we tell them?” There’s been a lot of work done. We’ve engaged an expert to look at the issue, lowered the water level so that there’s no risk of it failing … there was a managed risk.”

    Read more

  2. Russell Garbutt

    Good to know so many people have logged on and read the article. I hope that it has served its purpose as a background piece and I hope that people realise that it was written in February of this year.

    Sad though that what has been known for a long long time has been ignored by those that should have been really considering what the effects of the inevitable are. I have to say that I have tried to bring this subject to the attention of the Otago Regional Council through their planning process, but the impression I gather is that it is not a high priority in terms of planning. The ORC seemed to have higher priorities….

    It is hard to comprehend, but when the Alpine Fault finally gives, the force generated will be probably 30 times greater than what we have seen this weekend.

    What that will mean to the communities near the fault – Te Anau, Queenstown, and to a lesser extent Wanaka, is difficult to imagine, but judging by the recent quake, it will be as many others have predicted. The effects on the Canterbury region are forecast to be much much worse than what we have already seen through the effects of liquefaction.

    This is not scare-mongering, but is what I hope is a realistic forecast of the inevitable.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Mon, 6 Sep 2010
      Dunedin dams checked
      By Chris Morris
      The Christchurch earthquake had Dunedin City Council staff checking for fresh cracks at the Ross Creek Reservoir dam. The dam was patched in June, after large cracks were discovered across the face of the 143-year-old earth wall. Council water production manager Gerard McCombie yesterday said he was back at the dam by 6.45am on Saturday – just over two hours after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake devastated parts of Christchurch – but found no signs of fresh damage.
      Read more


      ### ODT Online Mon, 6 Sep 2010
      Quake loss likely to be same here
      By Chris Morris
      Dunedin’s heritage buildings would bear the brunt of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake centred on the city, with damage likely to be the same as in Christchurch, a seismic expert says. The warning came as Dunedin City Council civil defence and rural fires manager Neil Brown said a team of about 40 building inspectors from Dunedin would travel to Christchurch if required in coming days or weeks. The team, comprising council building inspectors and consultants, was one of only two in New Zealand to have taken part in a trial of new post-earthquake building assessment training earlier this year, Mr Brown said.

      Reclaimed areas of Dunedin would be vulnerable to liquefaction – turning solid ground into a liquid state – including South Dunedin and areas around the Forsyth Barr Stadium site.
      -Ian Walsh, Opus International technical services manager

      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Mon, 6 Sep 2010
        Editorial: Our shaky isles
        Today will bring fresh disclosures of the extent of the damage to Christchurch and its surrounding towns and villages following Saturday’s earthquake. It is certain to be more substantial than early examination has shown, certain to require much prioritising of repairs which will take months to complete, and certain to cost more than preliminary estimates. No earthquake in our developed history may have caused more damage on a more widespread scale to a larger urban area: Christchurch is our second largest city, sprawling not far short of the 40km distant from Cathedral Square to the earthquake’s epicentre at Darfield.
        Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Tue, 7 Sep 2010
          Ross Creek Reservoir could be largely filled in
          By Chris Morris
          The Dunedin City Council will consider largely filling in Dunedin’s scenic Ross Creek Reservoir, following the discovery of cracks in the dam’s embankment. Only a smaller “decorative pond” would be left. The option was one of three outlined to councillors at yesterday’s infrastructure services committee meeting by council water production manager Gerard McCombie.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Tue, 7 Sep 2010
          Measures urged to protect heritage buildings
          By John Gibb
          Relatively cheap and simple measures can protect many of Dunedin’s heritage buildings from much of the kind of earthquake damage evident in Christchurch, structural engineer Lou Robinson says.

          Mr Robinson, a principal of Hadley and Robinson Ltd, civil and structural engineers, said it was time to increase maintenance and earthquake strengthening work involving Dunedin heritage buildings. “We need to look after them a little bit better than we’re doing. If we value them, we need to improve their performance in earthquakes.”

          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Tue, 7 Sep 2010
          Taieri fault lines need research
          By Eileen Goodwin
          More research is needed on two Taieri fault-lines to determine if they are active, University of Otago geologist Prof Richard Norris says. Little was known about the North Taieri and Maungatua faults, he said.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Tue, 7 Sep 2010
          Council sends helpers to Christchurch
          By David Loughrey
          Dunedin City Council building inspectors have responded to a plea for help from their weary Christchurch counterparts, with an initial group of four yesterday heading north to the earthquake-stricken city. Council-owned company Delta Utility Services’ senior management team has also travelled to the city to do what it can.

          There did not appear at this stage to be any damage in Dunedin from the earthquake, although civil defence and rural fires manager Neil Brown said that might become clearer in the next few days.

          Read more

        • Elizabeth


          @nzherald The five things you need to know about the Christchurch earthquake: #eqnz

        • Elizabeth


          @ronindotca “@timstewartnz:” one of the best visualizations yet of the past few days.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Wed, 22 Dec 2010
        Irrigation to limit Ross Creek dam cracks
        By Chris Morris
        A high-tech irrigation system will be installed within weeks at Dunedin’s 143-year-old Ross Creek reservoir dam, to prevent further cracking as summer temperatures soar. Council water and waste services manager John Mackie yesterday said work to install the system – costing about $40,000 – was at the design and tendering stage and was expected to be completed early next year.
        Read more

  3. Jeremy Belcher

    Hi Russell,

    A great article on earthquakes – loved it!
    When things do shake up again it’ll be very interesting to see how Wellington fares.

    Jeremy Belcher

    • Elizabeth

      ### Last updated 05:00 12/09/2010
      Stadium to be short-term sanctuary
      By John Hartevelt – Sunday Star Times
      Homeless Cantabrians will be corralled into a sports arena while the government finds out how many of the 45,000 earthquake insurance claims lodged so far are for new or significantly rebuilt homes. Prime Minister John Key returned on his third trip to the quake-hit region yesterday, promising that housing solutions were on the way for the thousands whose homes will either be condemned or need major repairs.
      Read more

      {Link no longer active. -Eds}

  4. David

    Would DCC be able to borrow money to fix our city if we had a similar earthquake (considering that for many years ahead we are already at or past our maximum debt levels?).

    • Elizabeth

      This question, David, is disturbing. It’s not like Dunedin is New Zealand’s second largest city with a busy economy. Indeed this question is likely to be examined by our (DCC) Built Environment leadership group that has been meeting to provide recommendations to councillors.

      See these too:

      Fears for future of CBD’s fabric
      By Greg Ninness
      When insurance cheques start arriving, the owners of demolished properties will be faced with a choice – rebuild or invest elsewhere. In a town with high office vacancy rates and low rents, some investors are bound to look elsewhere. {Link no longer active. -Eds}


      Quake exposes insurance anomaly
      THE EARTHQUAKE has exposed a policy that must be changed immediately – the way the Earthquake Commission is funded. {Link no longer active. -Eds}


      ### Published: 2:07PM Thursday September 09, 2010
      TV1 Sunday – Wake up call
      What have we learned from the Canterbury quake? The seismologists tell us there’s a 60% chance of another magnitude 7 quake somewhere in the country within 10 years and a one in 10 chance of it happening within a year. Scary! It’s a wake up call, because if we don’t invest in earthquake proofing our old buildings, then people, are going to die next time – either fix them or pull them down is the advice. Is it scaremongering or is it a timely warming? Article: Video: (9:04)

      • Elizabeth

        Mr McLeod said after a disaster, officials had to be fleet-footed to deal with problems never anticipated when training for civil emergencies.

        ### ODT Online Mon, 13 Sep 2010
        DCC building inspectors find Christchurch quake work exhausting
        By Eileen Goodwin
        The Dunedin City Council’s top building inspector spent an “absolutely frantic” few days in Christchurch helping make decisions “on the fly” as the city slowly hauled itself back to its feet. Chief building control officer Neil McLeod led the DCC team which headed north last Monday, returning on Friday.
        Read more

        • Elizabeth

          You can tell me about it, I can’t watch it.

          ### September 17, 2010 – 8:18pm
          Stadium undamaged by Christchurch earthquake
          The recent earthquake which rocked Canterbury and was felt in Dunedin had no effect on Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza. With the Stadium under a tight construction deadline, complications from the quake could have been a significant hindrance but stringent building codes are being praised for ensuring the Stadium can withstand pressure from the elements.
          Link + Video

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Sat, 18 Sep 2010
          Quaking in our boots: How prepared is Dunedin?
          By Mark Price and Kim Dungey
          The Christchurch earthquake has raised the obvious question of whether Dunedin is likely to be similarly struck, and how prepared the city is to cope. Mark Price and Kim Dungey report. If earthquakes were as regular as clockwork, then a “big one” of magnitude 8 affecting Otago is 43 years overdue.
          Read more

          ### ODT Online Sat, 18 Sep 2010
          Old timers could get wobbly
          Dunedin has a reasonably large number of unreinforced masonry buildings typical of those that failed in the Canterbury earthquake. Many of the buildings in the main street and quite a few older houses, mostly built before 1930, are of that sort of construction, says Dunedin City Council chief building control officer Neil McLeod.

          What’s being done
          • A screening has been completed to rule out those buildings that are not earthquake prone.
          • Properties built before 1935 and where a lot of people gather must have remedial work done by 2025. Pre-1965 premises that would have post-disaster functions, such as hospitals and police stations must do the same.
          • Properties built before 1935 and that hold small crowds, such as offices, must be upgraded by 2035.
          • Owners must strengthen at-risk premises when changing their use or carrying out alterations.
          Read more


          ### ODT Online Sat, 18 Sep 2010
          Built upon the sand – Otago’s quake hotspots
          On Otago Regional Council earthquake maps, areas of liquefaction spread across the province like old-fashioned ink blots. There’s one around the edge of Lake Wakatipu, where much of downtown Queenstown stands; there is a bigger one around Lake Wanaka, one where Mosgiel stands and another that covers South Dunedin and spreads through the lower-lying parts of the city into Northeast Valley.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Wed, 6 Oct 2010
          Quake prompts building check
          By Chris Morris
          Canterbury’s devastating earthquake has prompted the Dunedin City Council to check the strength of its own buildings.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          Inspectors have checked more than 3000 of 5000 buildings within the “four avenues” that surround the centre of the city and have so far identified 115 buildings in need of remedial work.

          ### ODT Online Tue, 28 Dec 2010
          Shaking more violent than September 4 quake
          As engineers continue [to] assess the damage caused by the latest swarm of aftershocks to hit Christchurch it has been revealed that shaking in the central city caused by the biggest tremor exceeded the devastating September 4 quake.
          Read more

  5. Stu

    I hesitate to raise this, but I’m wondering if it is actually sensible to rebuild Christchurch. It seems like the newly activated fault extends directly under the city.

    • Elizabeth

      Won’t be helping their property market much, in the critical locations… Even with the right engineering would anyone seriously want to experience 32 ‘aftershocks’ in one day (26 December).

  6. Russell Garbutt

    I have just ridden down via Christchurch from Wellington over the last two days – an interesting motorcycle ride I have to say bearing in mind the weather.

    However, coming round the outskirts of the Chch CBD this morning was an interesting experience. It looked like a deserted war zone. Looking up some of the streets filled with cranes and other debris-clearing equipment all under grey skies and unrelenting rain was not nice. It certainly didn’t look like a Garden City. Out in the Eastern suburbs were street signs asking only residents go down certain streets. Utility infrastructure is bulging out of the streets with many open holes still apparent.

    On the way north before Christmas I stayed overnight near the epicentre of the September quake – the devastation within homes and on buildings in the country areas was still very apparent.

    What people don’t really realise – and I’m not sure why this is – is that the earthquake of September is nothing compared to what is overdue from the Alpine Fault. My original article still is as relevant today as it was before the September quake. The only thing that may have changed is that the degree of liquefaction in some parts of Canterbury may have been reduced because of what has happened in the last few months. The Alpine Fault is overdue for a major shift and for whatever reason, the major print media are not willing to run any real stories on what any decent geologist would tell them if asked.

    This is not a negative point of view, nor is a fatalistic one. It simply reflects that most of our authorities are way under-prepared for an event that is inevitable.

  7. Stu

    Part of the problem is the commonly-used Richter scale is logarithmic. Untrained humans are extremely bad at reasoning with logarithmic scales.

    From 6 to 7 to 8 sounds like small increments, but it’s orders of magnitude in effect. And we’re really bad at understanding the ramifications of that.

    You won’t see anything major on earthquakes in the mainstream media until after RWC2011. And the risk management strategy appears to be “Please Deity, let nothing happen until December 2011 at the earliest…”

  8. Russell Garbutt

    Stu, you are correct in the lack of understanding of the logarithmic scale. On the way back from Wellington, I stopped at Kaikoura South and got into conversation with some fellow motorcyclists about Christchurch and the quake. As it happened, on the outside wall of the cafe – Kaikoura Caves I think it is called – is a wonderful large map of the South Island and it is easy to show the geography of the Canterbury plains. When I said that the difference between a Force 7 and 8 quake is 30 times, they were staggered. They simply didn’t believe it at first.

    I made submissions to the ORC on the preparedness of that organisation for a Force 8 quake some years ago, and I was amazed to hear that they really didn’t comprehend what it would mean to our region.

    You are right to believe that the overall view is that if we ignore it, it may go away – until after the RWC is another piece of icing on the cake. Somehow though I think that the geology of the South Island has little or no deference to such events.

    Another thing – and I’m not sure where to post this, is the appearance of the lights around Blenheim and Kaikoura many years ago which have recently resurfaced with some recent “sightings” by the cameraman who was on the freight plane over Marlborough those years ago.

    Books have been written on this subject and people have become – in accordance with “law” famous within their life times for at least ten minutes. I have looked long and hard at the images of these “figure of eight” trails of light, and can’t understand why people can’t appreciate that these stills were from a movie camerar running film being exposed at 25 frames per second. At this exposure, the vibration of the aircraft from which the images were being captured and the unsteadiness of the hand-held camera being used, would mean that any image of any point of light would follow the trajectory of the vibration or movement of the camera and could follow a figure of eight pattern or an up or down pattern or a sideways pattern – all dependant on the direction of the vibration or unsteadiness.

    Instead, the shots have been stated to be evidence of the point of light moving at unbelievable speeds.

    Why this has never been publically been “outed” is beyond me. Mind you, the whole issue of the stadium falls into the same category.

    • Elizabeth

      Logarithmic scales aside, talking to anyone seriously affected by the Christchurch quakes about a much larger pending event (no, not RWC 2011) would be a little lacking in compassion, whether via a news or features column. The Alpine Fault should be discussed, there is no right time to know where to begin to fund the preparation and risk management. We still like to gamble, it’s probably all we can afford to do.

  9. James

    Part of the problem is with the logarithm, but the other part is the attempt to capture a multivariate phenomenon on a univariate scale. An immediately obvious analogue is the ‘perceived’ loudness of advertisements on television. They have the same objective peak loudness, so are not ‘louder’ in that sense, but there are other ways of making them louder without changing the reading on the objective scale.

  10. Russell Garbutt

    James, the producers and techos behind the ads realised pretty quickly that by reducing the dynamic range of an ad was very effective. Producers of much of pop music have done the same for years as well. Look at a piece of modern music or an ad on either a VU (Volume Unit) meter or PPM (Peak Programme Meter) and the needle doesn’t move. The normal voice in speech or “normal” music varies enormously. But simple audio compression and other types of audio filtering can make a big difference.

    I guess that the components of an earthquake that must be taken into account in terms of effect in your analogy will be the actual amount of earth movement in any direction, the duration of the movement, the depth of the fracture, the type of fracture (violent or otherwise) and the geology of the ground between the fracture and the observer. So a simple numeric figure only gives a relevance between quakes. But a “damage quotient” figure is not available so the Richter scale has to do.

    But despite the compassionate angle that Elizabeth mentions, I do think it incumbent on local authorities to be fully prepared through good knowledge and effective planning to be able to deal with the inevitable. Part of that planning must be in determining whether it is good policy to allow building in some areas that would be prone to liquefaction, or prone to failure through rock instability (most of Christchurch or large areas of St Kilda etc or hillside “perches” around Queenstown), and what to do about aggradation into rivers. While it may be insensitive to discuss these things, there is nothing to show that a major earthquake like the Alpine Fault movement will not be triggered by a movement in the land adjacent to the main fault. Simply doing a bit of patching up without addressing the main issue is not wise community policy in my view.

    • Elizabeth

      Russell, it’s hard to believe such a heads-in-sand situation exists with local authorities in regard to earthquake risk.

      Time for science and modelling to hit local authority desks. And I’m not too sure how ‘isolated’ the geoscientists and engineers are from actually being able to communicate their knowledge to Jo Public – it’s a simple thing to do, to coordinate how and what they know, and estimate, into local authority plans.

      Do the geoscientists attempt to jointly host workshops for councillors and council staff so to get budgets into LTCCP processes? Honestly, I haven’t seen the geos taking a leadership role for southern cities, only the odd news flash on TV after a natural event…

      If they’re doing great work already, in the ways I would expect, then I simply don’t know about it as a member of the general public. That’s two universities not ensuring their experts and professional colleagues in the field are communicating effectively for the public good: University of Otago and University of Canterbury.

      Seems to be something wrong here, what is Science Communication? University of Otago might well ask. Hmmm, and what is leadership from a multi-disciplinary field.

    • Elizabeth

      More on Ross Dam:

      ### ODT Online Mon, 31 Jan 2011
      Irrigation system nearly complete
      By David Loughrey
      A $27,000 irrigation system is almost complete at the Ross Creek reservoir dam in Dunedin, a system that should deal with concerns about dryness in the core of the dam. The work to install the system follows the discovery of cracks wider than a fist, found in the dam’s embankment last June.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Sat, 25 Jun 2011
        Reservoir to be lowered
        By David Loughrey
        Dunedin’s Ross Creek reservoir is to be lowered an additional 2.7m to lessen the risk of collapse from “low to inconceivable”, as the city prepares to make a final decision on the future of the picturesque facility.
        Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Sat, 10 Dec 2011
          $8.1m to protect water
          By Chris Morris
          The 144-year-old Ross Creek Reservoir is likely to be restored to full working order and its cracked earth dam fixed as part of a multimillion-dollar plan to protect Dunedin’s water supply in case of natural disasters. The proposal would mean $8.1 million of improvements by the Dunedin City Council – most of it over the next two years – to ensure the city’s water network had “infinite” back-up supplies in the event of a natural disaster.
          Read more

          Report – ISC – 29/11/2011 (PDF, 332.1 KB)
          Security of Supply Strategy – Metropolitan Dunedin

        • ### April 22, 2013 – 7:13pm
          Ross Creek reservoir coming back into service
          Work will soon begin on the 150 year old Ross Creek reservoir to bring it back into service as part of the city’s water supply. Construction worth $6.1 million will see the dam embankment restored, and new pumping stations and pipelines built. But the work will mean the end of the line for one stand of native bush, and tracks that wind through it.


          Dunedin City Council – Media Release
          Work Underway Soon On Ross Creek Reservoir Dam Refurbishment Project

          This item was published on 22 Apr 2013.

          Work will begin soon on the first stage of a major project to refurbish the historic Ross Reservoir dam embankment. The dam has been closely monitored since large cracks appeared in 2010. The monitoring plan to date has included an irrigation system on the dam face and gradual lowering of the water level to prevent further instabilities occurring. The refurbishment project, which is part of a wider strategy to provide better water security for Dunedin, will involve some bush and tree clearance, temporary track closures and significant construction work.

          DCC Water and Waste Services Asset Strategy Team Leader Tom Osborn says the DCC is very aware Ross Creek is one of the city’s most popular recreational areas. “We will make every effort to retain as much public access as possible during construction, but safety of the public and people working on the site must come first.”
          Read more

        • Emphasis on regenerated native bush:

          Ross Creek bush to be cleared in upgrade

        • ### ODT Online Tue, 14 May 2013
          Makeover for Ross Creek Reservoir
          Work is under way on the Ross Creek Reservoir refurbishment project. Dunedin City Council water and waste services asset strategy team leader Tom Osborn said Opus had the contract for the design and construction management of the refurbishment. The initial survey work had been completed. During the next two weeks, bush and scrub would be cleared at the base of the existing embankment to enable detailed survey and design work.
          Read more

        • ### ODT Online Sat, 19 Oct 2013
          Reservoir work delays
          By Debbie Porteous
          The next stage of work on the Ross Creek Reservoir is unlikely to go ahead until next year. Construction of a buttress on the reservoir’s embankment was originally expected to start this month, but there had been a series of ”general technical delays”, including in completing reviews of information and a revisit of the information required for the consent process, Dunedin City Council water and waste service capital programme analyst Tom Dyer said. It was now expected a consent application would be lodged with the Otago Regional Council later this year, and tenders for the construction work would be sought either late this year, or early next year.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Wed, 17 Dec 2014
          Reservoir work likely to start in early 2015
          By Debbie Porteous
          The restoration of Dunedin’s Ross Creek Reservoir is expected to begin early next year after being delayed until authorities agree on how it should be repaired. The 147-year-old reservoir is to be restored in a year-long project, including reconstruction of its earth dam, to make it a functional reservoir again.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          Restoration of Ross Creek Reservoir dam to boost the city’s water supply security.

          ### ODT Online Tue, 20 Oct 2015
          Tracks to close when work on dam begins
          By Chris Morris
          Some of Dunedin’s most popular walking tracks will be closed while work to restore the Ross Creek Reservoir dam expands. The 148-year-old structure has been closely monitored, and its water level lowered, since the appearance of large cracks in the earth dam’s embankment in 2010.
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          Ross Creek Dam is the oldest earth dam in New Zealand and is listed as a Category 1 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

          ### Wed, 21 Oct2015
          City’s water supply made more secure through upgrade
          The city’s water supply is being made more secure, through an upgrade of the historic Ross Creek Reservoir. Already the city council’s spent close to a million dollars on a wider water security project. And with the latest plan, that amount is set to more than double.
          Ch39 Link

          39 Dunedin Television Published on Oct 20, 2015
          City’s water supply made more secure through upgrade

        • Elizabeth

          Saturday, 29 October 2016
          Work starts on reservoir
          The refurbishment of Ross Creek reservoir has started. Dunedin City Council capital delivery team leader Dominika Biziak-Kochan said Opus International Consultants had been employed to oversee the work. A call for tenders closes on November 7  for construction to begin in January next year and run for about 18 months. Cont/

          Images: Ross Creek Reservoir
 | – Matt McCutcheon 18 Nov 2010



          lake-biwa-shiga-prefecture-japan-eurosis-orgComparative: Lake Biwa, Shinga prefecture, Japan

  11. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Sat, 15 Jan 2011
    Geologists part of earthquake project
    By John Gibb
    University of Otago geologists are preparing to take part in an international research project which may help clarify the likelihood and effects of a future massive earthquake on the Alpine Fault.
    Read more

  12. peter

    Yep, George, are you saying the stadium is our penance for their sins? Or does God like worthless, money- sucking stadiums?

  13. George Pilotte

    George – don’t bother posting here again. Your posts have been deleted. -Eds

  14. jaynice

    {Your comment has been deleted. See Russell Garbutt’s reply above. -Eds}

  15. Russell Garbutt

    Jaynice – while I am not in any way an expert in either geology or seismology, I have made extensive reading of the subjects and I can point you in a couple of directions that may help with your concerns.

    I did write a piece on the Alpine Fault which first saw light on this website last year {see post at the top of this thread -Eds}. That has some background to the causes of some earthquakes and addresses some of the after-effects of a quake such as huge buildups of gravel in waterways and other sediments in rivers and of course liquefaction.

    The effects of liquefaction vary enormously, but the Canterbury Plains as a big alluvial plain with lots of ground water coming from the Alps, and other areas such as South Dunedin and the mouth of the Leith when violently shaken can amplify the shaking in many cases rather than dampen movement. Things that are in the ground such as underground tanks, sewer pipes, water pipes can be forced out of the ground while things that are on top of the ground can sink. The places that these things happen can’t, it seems, be easily predicted. We have seen the big hotel in Christchurch for example remain more or less intact, but tilt because one corner of the land underneath it can no longer support it. It will no doubt, either fall or have to be bought down in a controlled way. The effects in the eastern side of Christchurch where the land has a very high sand content were also amplified to a high degree.

    Earthquakes occur on a fault line because one side of the fault moves in respect of the other. Over time, pressure of constant movement means that rocks fracture and instead of moving or sliding gradually, suddenly and destructively move.

    What seems clear to me is that the geologists and seismologists that have been interviewed so far on the media I’ve seen have demonstrated that they really don’t know too much about the faults underneath Christchurch because unlike here, the signs of a fault are hidden under many metres of gravel and stones that make up the plains.

    There are faults around Dunedin and I’m sure that you will be able to google for maps of where they are, but from my reading, they are limited in size and movement compared to many others. What is worrying is the possibility of these series of Canterbury events increasing the chances of a movement on the very large Alpine Fault. Again, there is a wealth of material on this with the likely patterns of strengths that would be felt, in many papers.

    Lastly, I’m not aware of any material that links ground water in alluvial plains with earthquakes. The water would be very close to the ground compared to a hidden buried fault in bedrock.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Wed, 16 Mar 2011
      Scientists complete alpine fault drill
      A New Zealand-led team of international scientists has successfully drilled through the alpine fault in the western South Island, the first phase of a project to learn about earthquake mechanisms on the fault. The scientists drilled adjacent boreholes to depths of 101m and 152m on river terraces next to Gaunt Creek, near Whataroa 140km south of Greymouth on the West Coast, early last month. NZPA
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Fri, 18 Mar 2011
        Factors combined to worsen Christchurch quake
        Four unfortunate factors combined to make Christchurch’s February 22 earthquake so destructive, including ground acceleration of more than four times that measured in last week’s quake off the coast of Japan. The magnitude 6.3 quake devastated Christchurch central city and killed an estimated 182 people. NZPA
        Read more

  16. Kiwifly


  17. Stan

    Hi Editors,
    I’m not normally a fan of censorship, but thanks for keeping things “clean” when so many are facing such hardships.
    From my reading, Russell is largely correct. Geonet (just google it) is an amazing resource this way for NZ. It shows the shallow and deep earthquake activity over the country.
    My best wishes to all those with friends and families in ChCh. (Mine are all safe)

  18. peter

    Chris Trotter’s column, ‘From the Left’, in today’s ODT posits an interesting view on the rebuild of Christchurch. He advocates a radical reshaping of Christchurch’s renewal by avoiding the rebuilding of replicas such as the cathedral should it end up being demolished. He speaks of looking to the future in terms of design. Personally, I partially see his point, but I think we need reference points to the past as well. I am worried that the sterility of so much modern design will take over in the rebuilding of Christchurch. New modern buildings such as the new gallery are great, but how about more modest rebuilds of commercial and residential areas? Who ultimately makes the decisions about an overall design as in Napier after their earthquake? Let’s hope there are the people on the ground up there who have wisdom. (As an aside, in January I walked up Manchester St where there was one particular corner site cleared on the corner of Manchester and Gloucester(?) on the side heading to the Port Hills. There was a sign up showing a proposed new building. It looked really boring in terms of its design. I groaned as it seemed to be a missed opportunity to do something more imaginative. Surely it is possible to combine imagination with manageable cost.)

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 25 Feb 2011
      This could happen in Dunedin, owner says
      By Debbie Porteous
      The almost total destruction of his home in Tuesday’s earthquake was the sort of thing that could happen to many of Dunedin’s buildings, says a former Dunedin businessman. The shallow 6.3 earthquake reduced to rubble Paul Dallimore’s 88-year-old grade 2-listed brick home in Papanui Rd.

      Building owners might find it easier not to strengthen buildings to earthquake-proof standards, but it was easy to see why it was so important when you looked at the destruction the earthquakes had now wreaked on Christchurch, he said.

      Read more

  19. Russell Garbutt

    I see conflicting scientific views now becoming public on whether last week’s damaging earthquake was an aftershock of the September 4th event. Professor Yeats, professor emeritus of geology at Oregon State University in Corvallis is stating that the 6.3 was not an aftershock but a movement on another fault, while others believe that the latter event was an aftershock of the Darfield event. Measurements of maximum acceleration also seem to indicate that some scientists are saying that 1.8 that of gravity was experienced while others are saying 2.2 was recorded. Of course it is understandable that there is confusion as the faults are hidden by the plain’s deep layers of alluvial stones and gravels.

    What does seem clear however is that some very serious thoughts need to be given to whether it is appropriate to rebuild large areas of housing on land that has now experienced liquefaction. It is completely understandable to want to fix things, to rebuild, to not give up. While it may be possible to demolish and rebuild houses in the eastern suburbs in particular, the question must be asked whether it is right to do so. These two major events have clearly demonstrated that this land, when subjected to a sizeable earthquake, will not support houses, roads and infrastructure. We also know that the really big event has not yet happened.

    I’m sure that the Chch CBD will get rebuilt with even stronger building codes than before and the spirit of Cantanbrians will prevail to make sure that this happens, but I hope that sufficient recognition will be made of the risks involved in rebuilding the much larger areas of housing and infrastructure that radiate out from the centre – particularly to the east.

  20. Russell Garbutt

    I see now that both of the modern buildings that collapsed in last Tuesday’s quake, while receiving green stickers and numerous inspections post the Sept event, are now revealed to have been built on land that was soft/unstable and subject to liquefaction. This will, no doubt be of great interest to the enquiry announced by John Key as to why these buildings failed, but it should also be of interest to those of us here in Dunedin who know that the rugby stadium in Awatea Street has been erected on land that is very similar in structure to that of Christchurch. I wonder if those that built the stadium would be willing to publish the full analysis of the ground at Awatea Street in a similar way to that just revealed in Christchurch’s CTV and PGG buildings?

    • Elizabeth

      In today’s notices, we see:
      (12.26pm, via NewstalkZB) 90 of the 161 people confirmed dead in the quake were found in the collapsed CTV building. 14 were recovered from the PGC building #eqnz

      • Elizabeth

        See the geotechnical engineering reports available for the Dunedin City Council Plan Change – Stadium. And expert discussion that presumed at the plan change hearing.

        • Elizabeth

          (7.15pm) via CampbellLive (TV3) – GNS says Christchurch has probably had its worst case scenario. Despite the heightened activity, it’s not likely that Christchurch will have another big quake.
          There will be no volcanic eruption – the volcanoes at Lyttelton were active 6 million years ago. But their content is not conducive to any awakening.
          GNS says “Earthquakes made New Zealand” – we should always be prepared.

          Answering questions about the Christchurch quake
          What happened under the earth in Canterbury?
          CampbellLive article CampbellLive Video

  21. Phil

    The only people really scrapping over the “new quake” versus “aftershock” verdict appear to be the insurance companies. If it’s an aftershock, then their liability for further damage to buildings already claimed for under the September quake is limited. If it’s a new quake, then it’s a new claim. Pack of vultures.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Thu, 3 Mar 2011
      Call for survey before rebuild
      The location and scale of potential faults under the Canterbury Plains must be understood before Christchurch pours billions of dollars into rebuilding, says a geologist.
      Read more


      ODT Online Thu, 3 Mar 2011
      Collapsed buildings on soft soil – report
      The two buildings which claimed the greatest number of lives in the earthquake were built on soft soil prone to a “large increase in shaking” and had “very high” susceptibility to liquefaction.
      Read more

  22. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 15 Mar 2011
    No more quakes than usual: Dunedin geologist
    By Eileen Goodwin
    The number of earthquakes around the world is not increasing but it might feel like it is because they have been hitting heavily populated areas, geologist Prof Richard Norris, of the University of Otago, says. Christchurch, Haiti (in 2010), Chile (in 2010), Italy (in 2009) and now Japan had been hit by quakes relatively near built-up areas, with devastating consequences.
    Read more

  23. Russell Garbutt

    I have just returned from a few days in Christchurch at a family wedding and took the opportunity to have a look at some of the buildings that were destroyed in the recent quake as well as having a close look at some of the housing in the eastern suburbs.

    My overall impression is that for a great percentage of homes and modern buildings in the western suburbs and those round Halswell is that it is hard to pick that anything has happened at all. Residents are going about their normal business, roads are largely undamaged or unaffected, all seems well.

    At the end of Riccarton Road the damage to buildings that have old parapets, or are constructed with brick as largely a structural component, are badly damaged, and clearly will need to be demolished.

    In the eastern suburbs – Dallington, Horseshoe Lake, Avonside – life is like a different world. The roads are a mess with large pools of grey water sitting in hollows. Portaloos line the streets, chimneys are down, houses are all on a lean, infrastructure like sewage, drains and water are exposed and not functional. I would say that a very high percentage of homes are no longer inhabited, nor inhabitable, and it is clear that the land is not suitable to be rebuilt on. Street upon street look like Delhi slums.

    The CBD is off limits so no visiting there, but clear from “The Press” that most of the buildings that were constructed without major strengthening are no longer standing or are in a state that they will need to be demolished. The big hotel reminds me of the leaning tower of Pisa without the architectural standing. My understanding is that it is to come down with controlled explosions.

    Interesting that Pegasus – the “new” town to the north of Chch has not suffered at all and according to an engineer I was talking to over the weekend, the developers spent a large amount of money using vibrating “piles” to consolidate all the underlying sandy soil. As a result the land was not subjected to the same forces that similar land a short distance away suffered. Apparently about 40 sections sold there the other day.

    Overall, I came away from Christchurch glad to be leaving. What the decisions that need to be made are unknown, but I can’t see how anyone can rebuild on large swarthes of land to the east and because large proportions of this land house lower-end housing, I can’t see that there will be a lot of political clout to concentrate on these areas.

    I would hate the task of determining what happens to Christchurch, but just rebuilding without taking into account all forseeable future events such as a major seismic event on the Alpine Fault, will be a major mistake.

  24. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Sat, 2 Apr 2011
    Otago hand in seismic testing
    By John Gibb
    University of Otago seismologist Dr Andrew Gorman was recently part of a scientific expedition which generated the first acoustic imagery of seafloor geology east of Christchurch, after that city’s recent major earthquake. The information gathered was being used to “image geological structures and layers” in a region adjacent to the fault that caused the magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch on February 22.
    Read more

  25. sasha

    very helpful, assisted with geography assignment ;)

  26. Russell Garbutt

    I was disappointed, but not surprised to learn that a lot of major insurance companies are endeavouring to wriggle out of their obligations for “replacement cover” for houses that have, in their view, only sustained repairable damage, while they have been zoned “red” by the Government and Chch City Council.

    It is, of course, ridiculous that a company can offer to repair a house that will be demolished by the red zone decision. I believe that a counter to this stupid position will be that the CCC will refuse to issue any consent to any work on any house in this zone rendering the house to be considered a total write-off.

    Shame on those companies that are attempting to get round their moral position, but one thing I learned from a casual enquiry was that “replacement” doesn’t mean that for most things in household insurance. For example, I was told that carpets, drapes and other furnishings, and maybe even whole areas like kitchens, will be gradually reduced in cover over several years – of course the premiums don’t reflect that reduced cover which is only revealed at the time of a claim.

  27. Reading these posts have been very thought provoking and frightening to say the least. I beg to ask the question, if we are to experience the inevitable Alpine Fault movement, why hasn’t the government started a campaign to warn the public of the very real dangers we are facing and offer strategies to assist everyone when it does happen?

  28. Russell Garbutt

    Hi Ani

    Some of the difficulty is that the people that know a lot of the scientific data are not renowned for their ability to communicate at an “ordinary” level. Many are only used to communicating with their peers and do so in a way that is generally inaccessible.

    Mostly I think however that governments or local bodies don’t want to address the inevitable as they have enough to worry about now. In my limited experience, bodies like the Otago Regional Council who will be faced with huge problems when the Alpine Fault finally gives, are ill-equipped and seem to prefer to adopt the view that it may not happen when they are still in office. Problem is that the Alpine Fault is overdue to go, and history tells us that when it does release then the results will be very serious and very widespread. And of course the Government EQC now has no money left after the Chch quakes.

  29. Anonymous

    If either the Alpine Fault or the Wellington Fault goes, we will be calling in the UN for disaster relief. The country has no reserves left.

  30. Hype O'Thermia

    Is Ladbrooks taking bets on the chance of these earthquake strengthening projects dampening the DCC urge to chuck money at Fubar and rugby Fail Opportunities?

  31. Anonymous

    Q: Were the majority of Dunedin’s water assets (reservoirs, supply pipelines, plant, mains pipes) built
    a) within the last 30 years
    b) 30 years ago to 80 years ago
    c) more than 80 years ago?

  32. ### ODT Online Wed, 7 Aug 2013
    Top earthquake scientist sought
    By Vaughan Elder
    The University of Otago is searching for a world-leading earthquake researcher to fill its new chair in earthquake science.
    Department of geology head Prof David Prior said the university began advertising the position about a week ago after a successful fundraising effort to pay for the position. The successful applicant would co-ordinate and advance earthquake research at the university and raise awareness about earthquake science, Prof Prior said. They would also need to have ”a very high international research profile”. As with the chair in neurosurgery, the position would also be about raising money for new research, he said.
    The idea of establishing the position pre-dated the Christchurch earthquakes, but they had highlighted the importance of learning more about earthquakes. Prof Prior believed Dunedin’s position close to the Alpine Fault, and the fact New Zealand was seismically active, would make the chair an attractive position.
    Read more

  33. I fail to see how sitting in a chair close to the Alpine Fault could be attractive. More like a ‘dunny seat’. Particularly, if you were seismically active.

  34. Elizabeth

    ### June 26, 2014 – 6:51pm
    Nightly interview: Virginia Toy
    It’s just been revealed that University of Otago scientists will take part in a major drilling operation of the South Island’s Alpine Fault. Dr Virginia Toy, of the university’s Department of Geology, is one of the leaders of the project. She joins us to explain what it involves and why.

  35. Elizabeth

    As of this morning, the landmark drilling project at Whataroa Valley, north of Franz Josef Glacier, had reached a depth of about 490m and had encountered temperatures of more than 60C.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 12 Nov 2014
    Alpine Fault’s high temperatures a surprise
    By Jamie Morton – NZ Herald
    A team of scientists drilling deep into the South Island’s high-risk Alpine Fault have been intrigued to encounter unusually high temperatures just several hundred metres below ground. […] The multi-national project, which has a goal of drilling 1.3km into the earth, would ultimately allow scientists to install monitoring equipment into the fault, where small earthquakes, temperature, pressure and chemical conditions could be studied. APNZ
    Read more

  36. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Mon, 19 Jan 2015
    Wealth of fault-bore science
    By John Gibb
    An international project that aimed to drill 1.3km into the Alpine Fault has produced ”a wealth of scientific information”, despite being halted early, short of its hoped-for depth, Dunedin project co-leader Dr Virginia Toy says. Drilling stopped last week, with the borehole at 893m, still the deepest anyone has drilled into a fault in this country.
    Drilling operations in the Deep Fault Drilling Project at Whataroa, north of Franz Josef, ultimately came up about 100m to 200m short of the fault itself, because of equipment problems.
    Read more

  37. Elizabeth

    ### January 29, 2015 – 7:11pm
    Nightly interview: Dr Virginia Toy
    An international research project to better understand the Alpine Fault has uncovered a wealth of information. Dr Virginia Toy, from the University of Otago, was a leader on the project. And she’s here to explain what’s been discovered.

  38. Elizabeth

    ### March 6, 2015 – 5:47pm
    International earthquake research coming to a close
    Major international research into the science of earthquakes has entered its final stage. University of Otago researchers are analysing rock from the Alpine Fault, following the deepest drilling yet of the geological feature. Despite engineering setbacks at the drilling stage, scientists are confident they’ll uncover something to help predict the next big shake.

  39. Elizabeth

    Scientists, Civil Defence and emergency services staff gathered in Dunedin on Tuesday to plan for the fallout from an Alpine Fault earthquake.

    Tue, 24 Jan 2017
    ODT: Preparing for week after huge earthquake
    Representatives from 50 organisations around Otago attended the Project AF8 meeting, which took its name from the potential magnitude 8-plus earthquake believed to be brewing along the Alpine Fault. The planning exercise was supported by the Universities of Otago and Canterbury, and GNS Science, and funded by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group regional manager Chris Hawker said the exercise’s focus was on preparing for the first week after an Alpine Fault earthquake. Cont/

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