Earthquake, South Island, New Zealand

By Grant Jacobs 04/09/2010

Now finalised to a short bulletin with the original as-news-came-in report below. Further information is mostly in the comments that follow.

At 4:45am, New Zealand time, an earthquake reported at 7.1 on the Richter scale, occurred ~30km to the west of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. The USGS and GeoNet have reports of the event. A short summary of initial news is below the images.

(Source:, Queens Valley report.)
(Source:, Queens Valley report.)
(Source: UGSG.)
(Source: USGS report.)

I’m not at the scene, but am familiar with the town and neighbouring region as Christchurch is my hometown. My overall impression is of damage to brick structures (facades, chimneys, walls on a few older buildings) particularly on older buildings, surface damage to roads and footpaths. Several reports include a broken water and sewerage mains. Power is out in the region, with the airport closed at the time of writing. There are many reports of damage to goods within houses, as you would expect. There appear to be no causalities reported, but more recent reports are of some more serious injuries including one patient in intensive care.

A good early summary can be found at the National Radio website.

Kudos to the TV news for getting a hold of geologist early on (9am report). From his comments, there was apparently a surge of water down the Avon river which may be responsible for some of the flooding reported.

The remainder of this post is the original, written with updates as the news came in. It’s messy, hence me hiding it under the fold, but there are some early pictures for viewing. Some advisories or reports of more interest to local readers are still occasionally being posted in the section below; most are in the comments that follow this post. (The lazy solution!) These updates will be infrequent from now.

My best wishes to all those in the region.

On-going report of earthquake this morning close to my hometown, Christchurch. I am editing this as news comes it. It is a little messy, but you’ll have to live with that!

Latest in (most recent at top)

9:45am: Christchurch Hospital is asking that minor injuries be taken to local services if possible and that people stay at home (I imagine they would like to limit ’disaster tourism’ from hampering services). People are asked not to use the cellular phone network, to reserve it for those in need.

9:30am: Christchurch Airport is closed until midday, with all flights at this time cancelled. (I have conflicting reports on this at this time, with more recent accounts saying it is being opened.)

From TV news bulletin. Centred 30km west of Christchurch. Chimneys down. Facades down (as in photos below, I would think, the central part of the town features these). Civil defence repeats report of no causalities.

From Twitpic:


Source twitpic:


More from twitpic (

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

(Silly aside: Henry’s breakfast show features we are living longer lives. ’Expert’ says ’some of the things we do are futile’ (paraphrasing). Can’t deny that, but is that news?!)

Power  down in Christchurch / central Canterbury. Christchurch Hospital reports no major injuries. On that positive note, I may slow down this reporting!

Shamed to hear reports on news bulletin of looting (liquor shops, apparently…)

UGSG report updated to expect damage, centred on Western suburbs of Christchurch.

Tsunami report says no threat to Pacific/Hawaii region.

From twitpic (
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Instructions for what to do after ’quake (Stuff website)

Police report mentions minor injuries only. (At 06:05 04-09-2010.)

Initial reports are of a 7.4 event centred near my hometown, Christchurch. Reports from relatives are of broken paintings from the walls, pottery, etc. No reports of personal injury.

Early media reports include buildings from my hometown badly damaged.

Below I have included seismographs from GeoNet.

I will update  this as I get further news. (Unlike most posts I write, this post will be live-edited substantially over the next short while.)

Best thoughts to others in the region.

This shows a sampling of the drums from throughout the country:


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