Posts Tagged earthquake

Christchurch rockfall Grant Jacobs Sep 16

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While I slave away, looking forward to the weekend when I might find time to write something (as opposed to pasting up other’s work*), two items on rockfall in, or from, the Port Hills.

The Port Hills lie to the south of the city, forming the northern portion of what locally is known as the Crater Rim – a circular ring of hills around the harbour that are the rim of an extinct volcano.

For me one of the not-foreseen hazards of the earthquakes in the Christchurch area was rockfall. While it might have been a known risk amongst geologists, I am under the impression many Christchurch residents (past and present) were, like me, caught by surprise on hearing reports of rockfall and the damage caused.

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GNS geologist Kevin Berryman speaking at July 15th Christchurch earthquake media briefing Grant Jacobs Jul 17

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Below is a video of Kevin Berryman’s presentation at the July 15th CERA media briefing. In it he presents over approximately 15 minutes data gathered from the June 13th events and looking forward – I hope that the extra detail over-and-above that seen in general media is useful, or at least interesting, to some readers.

YouTube Preview Image

A small snag with this coverage is that while it offers the slides for long periods of time–good for examining them–at some points Berryman refers to items on the slide by pointing them out, i.e. ’here’, which, of course, you can’t readily figure out in the presentation. (Ideally I would like to have seen a small window showing him presenting the material overlaid, but that has it’s own faults e.g. obscuring content it’s overlaid on.)

(CERA = Canterbury Earthquake Regional Authority. I’m not a geologist; I’m offering this as general interest for those following events in the Christchurch area.)

Christchurch earthquake, buildings and acceleration maps Grant Jacobs Jun 29


Just released by the Royal Society of New Zealand today (June 29th, 2011) is an information paper The Canterbury Earthquakes: Answers to critical questions about buildings (PDF file, 718kb).

It’s well worth reading – not just for those in Christchurch, but anyone in earthquake-prone areas in New Zealand or elsewhere, or the merely curious.

This work presents questions and answers in a joint effort by ’the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand, the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand, the New Zealand Geotechnical Society and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, who have co-ordinated science and engineering expertise from across New Zealand.’

(Update: Take-home points at end of this post.)

In addition to talking about buildings they have presented the peak horizontal and vertical ground acceleration recordings for the February 22nd and June 13th events onto maps (shown below).

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Christchurch earthquake land damage background Grant Jacobs Jun 24

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Before starting, I should apologise to readers for bringing so little of late, being swamped with work…[1]

The latest news on the Christchurch earthquake has been the announcement of a relief package for some of the worst affected suburbs in Christchurch from the September 4th, 2010, February 22nd, 2011, June 13th, 2011 (and other aftershocks) target an initial ‘red zone’ (large PDF map) of properties with badly damaged land, rather than damaged buildings as such.

Here I’ve gathered a few background items available on-line that might interest readers. (I’m not a geologist; I’m offering this loose collection of a video, brochure and a presentation (summary report) of the survey work in lieu of something more substantial from a geologist in the meantime.)

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The Christchurch / Lyttelton earthquake aftershocks news thread Grant Jacobs Jun 13


Latest news is added to the comment stream after this post, in on-going irregular fashion as the news occurs. Feel free to contribute.

I’m moving my news commentary to this post and the following comments.

There has been a magnitude 5.5 aftershock, followed by a magnitude 4.4 and just a few minutes ago a larger shock – details to come.

UPDATE: This is reported as a magnitude 6.0, centred between Lyttelton and Sumner, depth 9km.

UPDATE: This has been followed by a smaller aftershock. Recorded as a magnitude 4.9, 10km depth.


I’ll update this post as news comes in until the news settles down. For the earlier news see my comments in the February 22nd magnitude 6.3 thread.

Comments starting with and ampersand (‘@’) are taken from twitter, most likely from the #eqnz feed. I’m filtering what I hope are significant news to readers as a service. The updates may be a little slow as the feeds are a bit overloaded. Please treat all comments here as unconfirmed, unless indicated. My own remarks are [in square brackets].

@ThomasMeadia (Thomas Mead)

2degrees and Telecom customers are officially not able to send or receive texts at the moment. (via @vodafonenz)

@five15design (Paul Le Comte)

national radio reporting CHCH Cathedral has more massive damage – fucking huge shaking here in Dunedin

@BiscuitCIB (Amanda Fitzwater)

It’s just going and going and going the rumblings don’t stop. Stop the world I want off

@NewstalkZB (NewstalkZB)

Flights to Christchurch are on hold – people are asked to check with their airline’s website before heading to the airport

The CCC is asking residents of Sumner to self-evacuate to Heberden Avenue. Details here.

@christchurchcc: Unconfirmed reports of damages and injuries; Mayor calls for calm, asks to cut down calls and travel

@nzherald Fireservice say a bridge down possibly Gayhurst Road, Avonside.

@nzherald Orion said power has been cut to around 54,000 customers across Christchurch following the magnitude 6 earthquake. [Power stations routinely shut down after larger earthquakes.]

Mixed reports of rockfall from the eastern hill suburbs; unable to get a reliable feel for this at this point. Police said ‘no’ to this after the 5.5, but the 6.0 may have move material.

All the major educational institutions I am aware of have been shut for the rest of the day.

@NZStuff: UPDATE: Council staff confirm leaning Hotel Grand Chancellor had tipped further over

@NZStuff ( News) Police say collapsed building on the corner of Stanmore and Worcester streets had been searched and no one was found inside

Many reports of renewed liquefaction.

@CERAgovtnz (CERA) CCC advises Bridge St bridge is closed. Pages Rd bridge closed.

3:18 pm, June 13th:

@christensena (Alan Christensen) Pedaled home safely after the 6.0. Dicy getting through busy traffic lights without power. No power or water at home in Beckenham.

@rhiannonelston: Image: Liquifaction swallowing a car, Christchurch #eqnz via @timkelleher


A reliable source of update / advisories is the CERA twitter feed, e.g.

@CERAgovtnz CCC advises that bridges on AND over Moorhouse Ave are closed. #eqnz #chch

@CERAgovtnz CCC advises that more bridges may close. #chch #eqnz

@CERAgovtnz CCC advises Bridge St bridge is closed. Pages Rd bridge closed.

Here geonet drops to informality just after the magnitude 6.0 event:

@geonet Ouch. Another big #chch #eqnz. Locating it now. Up around mag 6 this time.

@Project7NZ Project⁷ NZ (retweeted by CERAgovtnz) Officials are asking people to avoid Oxford Terrace to keep it clear for ambulances

@nzherald Police are evacuating the central city red zone. There are reports of a possible gas leak. [Surely gas was turned off to the central zones after the earlier earthquakes?]

There are a number of bridges closed.

@NZStuff: Police: Old Waimakariri bridge., Moorhouse & Anzac Ave overbridge, Merivale Mall, Gloucester/Gayhurst bridge ALL CLOSED

@NZStuff About 10 ppl reported injured; no fatalities reported to date, says Nat’l Crisis Management Centre

Unconfirmed reports that the tower of the Timeball Station at Lyttelton (damaged in the Feb. 22nd earthquake) has collapsed.

Airport is apparently closed. (Runways are apparently being inspected for damage.)

@JoyReidTVNZ (Joy Reid) Residents in Lyttelton tell me damage is almost comparable to the Feb 22nd quake [I’ve family there, too; still haven’t heard from them - too busy with immediate things no doubt.]

@BrilliantlyEvil (Brilliantly Evil) In the the last 3 hours there have been 7 eq’s – a 4.3, 5.5, 4.4, 3.4, 6.0, 4.9 and a 3.7

@aeanominae (Aean Campbell) Church @dyedredlaura and I got married in has completely collapsed. #stupidearthquakes

CCC emergency bulletin #3 – from 3:20pm.

While #eqnz is very busy, I’m seeing few reports of trouble beyond building damage at this stage; more detailed reports may take time to come in.

@CHC_Airport Christchurch Airport (via @nzherald #Chch) Airport Terminal Open for passengers. runway checks continuing. expect delays. contact your airlines for flight info

@TelstraClearNZ TelstraClear ( by five15design) Tips to save yr battery: change your vmail to say you’re ok, txt rather than call, 2G over 3G, turn bluetooth wifi off brightness dwn


@rnzgallery (Jane Patterson) Great deal of flooding in Linwood, and Ferrymead – traffic lights out in Mt Pleasant, Heathcote, Linwood and Ferrymead

[Finally updated on my immediate family.]

@JoyReidTVNZ: Our cameraman is borrowing my bike to get to police HQ in time for press conf #eqnz #committedtobringyouthenews

USGS has given a MMI of VIII for the magnitude 6.0 event and set a Prompt Assessment level of ‘Red’ via a pager page. There are more details here.

@phoeberuby 24 Hour Surgery on Bealey Ave is practising out of the carpark


The NZ Herald has a periodically updated news stream. [Naturally they have better resources than I do…!]

@usembassynz: For the latest on Christchurch #eqnz, follow @CERAgovtNZ, @@ChristchurchCC, @NZcivildefence or @geonet

CCC update #4, from 4pm.

Early (unconfirmed) reports of no deaths or serious injuries.


CCC update #5 (2:20pm) brings news of landslides and rock fall.

7:45pm – Quick notes:

  • Residents are encouraged to boil water (via CERA)
  • Power is being restored; some will not have power overnight (via Orion)
  • All schools will be closed tomorrow

In a lighter vein, a minor damage report (edited):

@AdrienneRewi (Adrienne Rewi)

Have assessed interior damage – last champagne glass smashed, books down & major losses in the sultana & tea bag departments.

And potted plants no longer potted

@NZRedCross (New Zealand RedCross; retweeted by CERAgovtnz) Cowles Stadium Welfare Centre is now open #RedCross teams assisting

@ChristchurchCC (ChCh City Council; retweeted by CERAgovtnz) Emergency Update 6 – 7pm 13 June 2011 [Focus on flooding, esp. 2:25am high tide in lower Avon and Heathcote River areas]

@CHC_Airport (Christchurch Airport) Flights are now operating from #Christchurch Airport. Please check with your airline for the latest flight information.

GeoNet has an initial information page up, including ground acceleration maps and the general nature of the ground movement.

There’s also a google map of places that reported feeling the earthquake.

June 13th, 10:45pm

As you can tell, my updates are lagging! There are plenty of alternative–and better–sources around anyway, like that at, (including advisories), NZ Herald, CCC, and elsewhere.

As you’d expect GNS is warning of following aftershocks, like the magnitude 4.0 at Godley Heads at 8:28pm.

The summary (linked above) report police as reporting(-ed) at least 46 people were injured, but a little later reports 6 people taken to hospital with minor injuries, and that there has been additional building damage (with some further collapse) within the Red Zone, including the Cathedral in the Square. Burst water mains are being reported, as well as rockfall in the eastern hill suburbs and coastal areas. For all these reports of issues there seems to be no serious injuries, which is at least one thing to be grateful of.

The latest (9-9:30pm) emergency update on the CCC website listing road & bridge closures, water & sewerage advise and a welfare counselling line.

The Historic Places Trust has an update on the Timeball Station.

I may add images later if I find some worth sharing. I’m now adding further news in comments. Subscribe to the RSS feed if you want to keep up with them. You’re welcome to add comments.

Other articles on Code for life:

Doggie ERVs

Coiling bacterial DNA

Literate and test-driven programming (in bioinformatics)

Mother’s Day – “slightly more than half of everything I am…”

Finding platypus venom

Christchurch earthquake telethon Grant Jacobs May 22

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Running for the next twelve hours is a telethon to raise funds for the Christchurch restoration project.

My readers will already know well that Christchurch, my hometown, has experienced a large earthquake last year (September 4th, magnitude 7.1) and a (large!) number of aftershocks, in particular a magnitude 6.3 event on February 22nd.

You can contribute and watch the event live on-line, at Rise Up Christchurch. Local viewers can watch it on MaoriTV.

There’s interviews of people, views of the central business district which is badly damaged, entertainment.

Some items, among others, being sold (see

  • a pair of Gucci shoes worn and autographed by pop singer Lady Gaga
  • pop singer Katy Perry’s guitar (signed)

For those that know them, ’names’ that will be appearing include in no particular order!:

  • Usher (singer)
  • Rachel Hunter (model, NZer)
  • Anna Paquin (Oscar-winning actress, NZer) will be amongst a crowd of other Kiwi actors and company at Hollywood including: Martin Henderson, Mark Hewlett, Chris Hobbs…
  • Neil Finn (singer, of Crowded House, Split Enz)
  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (football manager)
  • Benji Marshall (rugby league star and Kiwis team captain) with sporting guests in Australia
  • Zane Lowe (radio, in England; NZer)
  • Prince Edward (British Royalty; lived in NZ for a year; from recollection there is apparently 30min of time from Buckingham Palace)
  • Peter Jackson (Oscar-winning movie director, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Heavenly Creatures, The FrightenersThe Lovely Bones, etc.; NZer; this article suggests he’s made a couple of short films for the event)
  • Sir Ian McKellen (actor, stars in the up-coming The Hobbit)
  • Shane Cameron (boxer) and Candy Lane will take to the dance floor

Update: This long article by Cate Brett offers a perspective from three months on. It looks at the wider picture, for example mentioning the ~20,000 homes with significant damage, the social developments and so on.


I may add more details later today, if I find time.

For those from overseas ‘NZer’ is a common short-hand for New Zealander. Less to type…

My apologies for not linking to or giving credit to all the sources of the information (mostly media reports) as I usually would, as my time is very limited.

Other earthquake-related posts on Code for life:

Christchurch/Lyttelton Feb 22nd 2011 earthquake — questions and answers

Aftershock tweets

6.3 earthquake in Christchurch

Christchurch (Lyttelton) earthquake ground movement captured by satellite imagery

Liquefaction in a barrow

Lyttelton earthquake peak ground acceleration

Magnitude vs. intensity; Chile vs. Haiti

Earthquake, South Island, New Zealand

Aftershock tweets Grant Jacobs May 10


(Not a science post.)

Rolleston, a outlying suburb / township of Christchurch was woken at 3:05am by a magnitude 5.3 aftershock this morning. A magnitude 4.1, also in Rolleston, occurred at (9:09am), both 15km deep.

As is now usual the #eqnz hashtag crowd got to tweeting. It’s too early to get a handle on it, but thus far the main thing broken seems to be people’s sleep. (There are a few tweets of new cracks, moving bricks, etc.)

The tweets are interesting to read. I’ve collected a few below for your entertainment and insight, grouping them a little under themes. Comments in square brackets are mine.

One guy woke with a window broken on his head:

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Smelly analogy in cartoon of nuclear plant news Grant Jacobs Mar 25


Here’s a cartoon that was apparently shown to young children in Japan, explaining their nuclear plant news.

For those wondering want this is doing on an adult’s science website, I offer in my defence the lame excuse that it is an example of science communication by analogy for the very young. While true, in reality I just find it a little surreal. Well, a whole lot surreal. You’ll see what I mean.

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Ken Ring & March 20th – let’s get back to science Grant Jacobs Mar 20

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As we head towards whatever flexi-time deadline it is that Ken Ring has in mind as the end of his ‘earthquake prediction/warning/opinion’ this what I see on the GeoNet national seismic drum summary:

Source: GeoNet, NZ.

Source: GeoNet, NZ.

Magnitude 4 earthquakes are common in New Zealand and we’ve had several over the past 24 hours. A magnitude 4.7 at Hawera from 120km down. Three magnitude 4+ earthquakes in 25 minutes near Twizel, and (much) smaller aftershocks in the Christchurch region. None of these are ‘for the record books’ as Ken Ring said to Marcus Lush.

This fuss has seen more traffic to my blog than ever. A good thing, right?

Actually, it’s partly why I’m sick of the Ken Ring fiasco. Readers can’t see the blog traffic, but I can. A good 60-80%+ of the traffic each day over the past ten days or so has been to a short article on why it never mattered what happened today. It’s depressing to see the bulk of my readership go to a topic like that for days on end. You can only hope it’s mostly people who think Ring’s ’predictions’ are silly, but that it’s attracted the sort of attention is has at all is a bit disquieting.

It’s also not as if I’ll stop letting people know what I think of homeopathy and whatnot; it’s the sheer persistence of the thing that is a bit much.

I want people to be reading about all the great things happening in science, not hare-brained ’predictions’ and the media circus feeding off it.

On that note, I offer below some of my longer-form articles for general readers, with teasers. Older articles including videos, shorter pieces and a few more serious articles can be found in my blog anniversary day listing or just browsing around the archives to the right of this page. Feel free to comment, even if the articles are old. Don’t forget my colleagues blogs too.

Health and science-related

Christchurch/Lyttelton Feb 22nd 2011 earthquake – questions and answers Grant Jacobs Mar 16


The Royal Society of New Zealand and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee has released a PDF document, The Canterbury Earthquakes: Scientific answers to critical questions.

Questions addressed range from the nature of the aftershocks to predicting earthquakes, the differences between the September 4th 2010 magnitude 7.1 and February 22nd 2011 magnitude 6.3 earthquakes and others.

An audio recording of the press conference associated with the release of this document is available soon at the Science Media Centre. Update (3:53pm): a transcript of his introductory speech is now also available as a PDF file; this particular includes remarks on understanding probability, risk and hazards.

The document features an excellent infographic from USGS relating the number of people in each part of the city and shaking levels in that part of the city (using the MMI scale). It also shows two graphs breaking down the peak ground accelerations into it’s horizontal and vertical components. I’ve included copies of them below as teasers to encourage readers to read the document.


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