EARTHQUAKE UPDATE : Christchurch: Lonely Planet boost for tourism

Christchurch’s determination to rise from the rubble has been richly rewarded with a spot in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities worldwide to visit in 2013. The NZ Herald reports

MY COMMENT : Great news for a great New Zealand city – whose heart has been hurt by quakes…

Link to Liturgy’s Earthquake articles 

It’s expected that a nod from one of the world’s most popular travel guides, which placed Christchurch sixth, will be a boost for the city’s tourism industry that was brought to its knees after the February 2011 earthquake.

Much of the city’s infrastructure was ruined in the quake and 185 people were killed.

Christchurch was singled out by Lonely Planet for the way it was “bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness”.

New Zealand’s second largest city is rising from the rubble… with a breathtaking mix of spirit, determination and flair.”

It’s the only New Zealand city to make the 2013 list, while Hobart is the only Australian city to make the cut.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the accolade was a tribute to the city’s “let’s get going” attitude and creative approach.

He says some visitors to the region came because they were interested in the impact of the earthquake, but most visited because it remains the main gateway to the South Island and is still a “beautiful garden city”.

“This will certainly help the tourism industry… it’s a priceless recognition of all the hard work that has gone on. We’ve been very wounded, international visitor nights in accommodation are down 50 per cent from before the earthquake.

“It’s Christchurch’s `let’s get going’ energy that visitors like. It’s not the old Christchurch that they’re coming to see – like the historical buildings – it’s a city with a bit of energy.”

Mr Hunter says projects like Gap Filler in which dull public spaces, such as spots where buildings had been torn down and removed, display art or offer entertainment, had been popular.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is thrilled Lonely Planet has picked up on all the exciting new aspects of the city.

“It’s a real coup to get Christchurch included in the list of top 10 cities for 2013. As a regular user of Lonely Planet when I am travelling myself I fully understand the significant value of this recommendation.”

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend says this shows the world how far the city has progressed since the quake.

“Hopefully we’re going to see a lot more visitors heading our way as a result of this endorsement,” he said.

Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Director Christ Zeiher says 2013 will be a great year to visit Christchurch and “experience the amazing energy of the city in its rebuilding phase”.

Tim Dearsley, general manager of Christchurch’s IBIS Hotel which closed after the earthquake hit but reopened last month, says the Lonely Planet listing will bring the city’s recovery forward by a year.

Christchurch’s Double-decker bus tour company Hassle-free Tours is mentioned in the 2013 Lonely Planet guide as one of the best ways to explore the city.

Co-owner Mark Gilbert, who last month won the Pacific Asia Travel Association Young Tourism Entrepreneur Award, says being mentioned in the “travellers’ bible” is a fantastic achievement.

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities 2013:

1. San Francisco

2. Amsterdam

3. Hyderabad

4. Derry/Londonderry

5. Beijing

6. Christchurch

7. Hobart

8. Montreal

9. Addis Ababa

10. Puerto Iguazu



Earthquake shattered illusions of growth

Quakes shakes our reality. The physical impact destroys not just buildings, but changes lives and communities   . Preventing said destruction through improved planning and infrastructure, in the China that is consciously pushing forward, is the challenge. From ‘The Global Times’ editorial.

M5.2 SICHUAN-YUNNAN-GUIZHOU RG CHINA 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Multiple earthquakes struck rural areas of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces on Friday, claiming dozens of lives and wounding hundreds. The news sent shockwaves throughout the country, highlighting China‘s vulnerability to natural disasters and the urgency for strengthened capabilities in disaster prevention and reduction.

A quake as strong as Friday’s, which was measured at 5.7 on the Richter scale, could have caused fewer or even no casualties in a more developed region.

It once again served as a reminder that China has far from having completed its modernization process. The country as a whole is still prone to calamities that prey on its weaker aspects. Three decades of fast development have ushered China into the great cause of modernization, but that time was merely the beginning.

Many poorly constructed houses could not withstand the quake and were reduced to rubble. People who have illusions about China’s national strength have to wake up to the fact that many people still live in houses with similar conditions. It is impossible for them to be immediately relocated to safer ones any time soon.

Society as a whole is by no means affluent enough. For many at the grass-roots level, it is more reasonable to spend their limited disposable income on a slightly better life. Coping with natural disasters has never been a priority for those people, who instead have to count on luck as they cannot afford the costly requirements of investing in precautionary measures.

Many would prefer bigger, rather than safer but more expensive, houses or apartments. To take the time and invest money in the prevention of natural disasters, which are unpredictable and are unlikely to occur, does not seem like a persuasive proposal to many in China.

The fundamental reason for this lies in poverty. There are always more pressing and urgent priorities in daily life for them to spend their money on.

Despite the status quo, we have to act now. Reflection and remedies should be in place. Things cannot be done in one move, but that’s no excuse for remaining idle.

China should seek fast and quality development at the same time. The safety of lives is at the core of such an ideology. Houses, bridges and food should be safer and that’s where modernization should be unswervingly headed.

Upgrades to urban infrastructure should no longer focus merely on their appearance. More people should work toward disaster prevention and rescue. Any infrastructure work should put safety above all else.

Indeed, safety comes at a cost. But it also brings more development opportunities and wealth in the meantime.

Source :

Christchurch quake anniversary : recalling the ugly, considering the future

 Taken from the Port Hills overlookingChristchurch when the quake hit.

As New Zealanders remember the earthquake of 22nd February a year ago, a range of media have covered many aspects of the event. Here I attempt to summarise some of my own thoughts and facts… 

*** Quake factsheet at my re-launched Learn From Nature blog | follow me at twitter

Just as Christchurch was beginning to recover from the huge impact of 4 September 2010 earthquake, a massive aftershock delivered an even more deadly and destructive blow to the city. News reports of the Anglican Cathedral without its characteristic tower, flashed across the internet and newspapers. In January, NAEE co-chair Henricus Peters visited his family who lives there to see the city for himself.

Out of sight, out of mind. Such folly, as we all know now, when it comes to nature. Many Cantabrians probably thought a major earthquake would not happen in their lifetime, despite occasional warnings from scientists, council planners, engineers, and Civil Defence workers that there was still a good chance it would.

The threat was, it was thought, might be from the Alpine Fault, which runs through the western spine of the South Island. Instead, it was hidden or ‘blind’ faults, under the Canterbury Plains. What happened on Saturday 4 September 2010 at 4.35am and continued on Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 12.51pm, proved to be damaging …. Canterbury’s fertile plains are the result of millions of years of mountain building, glaciation and river action. These deposits masked the greywacke bedrock with its tell-tale splinters and cracks resulting from the pressure of the colliding Australian and Pacific tectonic plates [1].

Vast amounts of energy were released in the first few hours of 22 February, changing the shape of Christchurch. The Port Hills are 40 cm taller in places, and Port of Lyttelton is now several centimetres closer to the city.

Everyone has been affected by this natural disaster, turned human disaster for all those who have lost loved ones and property. Schools are sharing premises, since of their locations has been devastated and is now ‘red zoned’ – cannot be occupied.

182 people died as a result of 22 February. This was because a shaken city was now rocked and people were inside these already-affected structures.

21 – the number of earthquakes exceeding magnitude 5 since 4 September

247 – number of earthquakes exceeding magnitude 4 since 4 September

6016 – number of earthquakes detected in Canterbury since 4 September

563 million – number of hits on GeoNet in the six days after 4 September

Christchurch has been presented with a rare opportunity. We have the chance to build a better city. Christ’s College [2], where my brother teaches, has lost a large number of buildings. They are now designing far better, more sustainable premises, which will benefit future generations of students.

Acknowledgements: 1. ‘Earthquake’ by Chris Moore; The Press.  2.

Links :

Quake latest : Christchurch rattled (again)

English: The Pyne Gould Building following the...
Image via WikipediaNew Zealand—A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.
A series of strong earthquakes struck the city of Christchurch on Friday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.

One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, and four people had to be rescued after being trapped by a rock fall, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area.

The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck Friday afternoon, 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Minutes later, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit. About an hour after that, the city was shaken by another 5.8-magnitude temblor, the U.S.G.S. said, though New Zealand’s geological agency GNS Science recorded that aftershock as a magnitude-6.0. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.

The city’s airport was evacuated after the first quake and all city malls shut down as a precaution.

About 60 people were treated for minor injuries, including fractures, injuries sustained in falls and people with “emotional difficulties,” Christchurch St. John Ambulance operations manager Tony Dowell told The Associated Press.

“We have had no significant injuries reported as a result of the earthquakes today,” he said.

Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated “as an emergency measure.” The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7.0 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths.

Rock falls had occurred in one area and there was liquefaction — when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil — in several places, Isaacs told New Zealand’s National Radio.

“There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again,” he said.

Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes.

“It … started slow then really got going. It was a big swaying one but not as jolting or as violent as in February,” Christchurch resident Rita Langley said. “Everyone seems fairly chilled, though the traffic buildup sounds like a beehive that has just been kicked as everyone leaves (the) town (center).”

The shaking was severe in the nearby port town of Lyttelton, the epicenter of the Feb. 22 quake.

“We stayed inside until the shaking stopped. Then most people went out into the street outside,” resident Andrew Turner said. “People are emotionally shocked by what happened this afternoon.”

Around 26,000 homes were without power in Christchurch, after the shaking tripped switches that cut supplies, Orion energy company CEO Rob Jamieson said.

“We don’t seem to have damage to our equipment,” he said. “We hope to have power back on to those customers by nightfall.”

Hundreds of miles of sewer and fresh water lines have been repaired in the city since the February quake.

One partly demolished building and a vacant house collapsed after Friday’s quakes, police said.

Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the quakes came at the worst possible time for retailers, with people rushing to finish their Christmas shopping.

Despite the sizable quakes, there was no visible damage in the central business district, where 28 stores have reopened in shipping containers after their buildings were wrecked by the February quake, he said.

“Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be feeling a little bit better again and restoring our faith in the will to live and to stay in Christchurch,” the city’s deputy mayor, Ngaire Button, told National Radio.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Earthquake Updates

Sanitation concerns in post-quake Christchurch

Wendy Zukerman, Australasia reporter

In the New Zealand city of Christchurch authorities are scrambling to restore water supplies and sewage systems which were severely damaged by last week’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake.

Canterbury medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey told New Zealand Doctor that 40 per cent of Christchurch doesn’t have running water and the entire city’s water supply is “compromised”.


(Image: Jamie Ball/Rex Features)

Isolated cases of measles and gastroenteritis have been reported. According to Humphrey the gastro cases were likely to have been water-borne and the result of people brushing their teeth with contaminated water – rather than spread through human contact.

But, a Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman told the New Zealand Herald: “There is an underlying potential for there to be a measles outbreak. There’s a chance of an outbreak of gastro diseases.”

Many residents are living in camps, where the poor sanitation and cramped living conditions are perfect for disease outbreaks.

On Friday, Cowles Stadium welfare centre – which provided accommodation for Christchurch earthquake evacuees – was forced to close because its water and sewage services were not considered reliable.

Radio New Zealand reported that the Christchurch City Council was “worried about disease” at the stadium, and said it could not “afford an outbreak of diarrhoea.”

All citizens are being encouraged to boil their water before consuming it.

At 12.51 pm local time today – precisely one week from when the earthquake struck, burying as many as 200 people – the city stood silent for 2 minutes.

Mental health is seen as a growing concern in the city, too. A doctor from a nearby hospital that has been helping patients told the New Zealand Herald, “We had walking wounded coming in initially on Tuesday – people with cuts, minor injuries and things like that. We are starting to get more people with shock coming in and I expect that to increase.”

The tectonic forces that are shredding New Zealand

The week of 22 February the New Zealand city of Christchurch felt the force of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. The quake came just five months after an even larger one struck 40 kilometres west of Christchurch, near the town of Darfield. In fact New Zealand experiences around 14,000 tremors each year, although most are too small to be felt. They are a sign of the tectonic processes that are gradually shredding the country.

Why is New Zealand so prone to earthquakes?
Regions that lie close to a boundary between tectonic plates tend to feel more quakes than areas in the middle of a plate. New Zealand may have a total land area of just 27,000 square kilometres, but that area happens to coincide with the margin between the Pacific and Australian plates, leaving parts of the island very seismically active.

Which areas are most vulnerable?
Large areas of both North and South Islands have felt earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5 within the past 200 years. This is because of New Zealand’s unique tectonic regime: despite its small size, the country feels the impact of three distinct regions of tectonic activity.

The relatively low-density continental crust of the North Island, which sits on the Australian plate, is forcing the dense oceanic crust on the Pacific plate beneath it in a process called subduction. This creates a so-called destructive plate margin that is nibbling away at the Pacific plate. Earthquakes are common where a subducting plate grinds against the underside of an overriding plate.

Something similar is occurring to the south-west of South Island. But here the sliver of continental crust lies on the Pacific plate, and it is the Australian plate that is being destroyed through subduction.

In between, the continental crust on the Pacific and Australian plates slide past one another on South Island, creating a conservative plate margin where crust is neither created nor destroyed. This area is still prone to earthquakes, most notably along the Alpine fault. Further away from these fault zones the ground is generally more quiescent. Christchurch is over 100 kilometres from the Alpine fault.

So what caused the Christchurch quake?
It was caused by a new fault – or, to be more precise, a previously unrecognised fault.

“The fault is likely to have existed previously – and possibly produced earthquakes before – but they have not ruptured recently, in a geological sense,” says John Townend at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The unrecognised fault appears to be an offshoot from the Alpine fault. Unfortunately for the residents of Christchurch, that offshoot passes very near South Island’s largest city.

Are more quakes on the fault likely?
Earthquake prediction is an inexact science, despite tantalising evidence thatearly warning systems may be possible in some cases. But some seismologists are cautiously optimistic.

“An earthquake of this magnitude does a good job of releasing stress,” says Gary Gibson, a seismologist at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Townend agrees: “My interpretation of what we are seeing near Christchurch is temporary, albeit harrowing, activity in what is generally a relatively low-seismicity part of the broad plate boundary.”

What’s the long-term prognosis for New Zealand?
Even if Christchurch dodges major seismic activity in the near future, tectonic forces will continue to act on New Zealand. Hamish Campbell at the research consultancy GNS Science in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, says it’s “very unlikely” that the newly recognised fault will have any serious effect on the country’s geography, but activity on the Alpine fault may well do so.

The rocks on either side of the Alpine fault are grinding past each other quickly – at around 30 millimetres per year. The southern part of South Island has moved at least 480 kilometres relative to the northern part within the past 25 million years. That rate of movement is “colossal”, says Campbell – and not far off the displacement seen on the world-famous San Andreas fault in California, which is itself a conservative plate margin.

Fast forward several million years and New Zealand will continue to twist and turn. The activity that is already shredding the country will ultimately see South Island “split in two along the Alpine boundary”, says Campbell. The town of Kaikoura would be at the northern tip of one island, with Greymouth at the southern tip of the other, he predicts.


Earthquake: The unknown fault that caught out Christchurch


NEW ZEALAND is riddled with major active faults, but it seems the fatal 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit Christchurch this week was caused by one that was not on the list.

“Christchurch has never been identified as a major earthquake zone, because no one knew this fault ran beneath,” says Roger Musson, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

The Alpine fault that runs along the mountainous spine of South Island marks the boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates. It now appears likely that the Christchurch quake resulted from a previously unknown fault extending directly eastward from the Alpine fault.

It first came to light last September when a stronger but less calamitous quake shook Darfield, 40 kilometres west of Christchurch. Seismologists believe the latest quake resulted from …

Full article

Today’s fatal earthquake near Christchurch in New Zealand confirms that a country already riddled with major fault lines has gained another one, say seismologists.

“Christchurch has never been identified as a major earthquake zone, because no one knew this fault ran beneath,” says Roger Musson, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

New Zealand experiences thousands of earthquakes each year, because it lies on the boundary between the Pacific and the Australian tectonic plates. To the north-east, the Pacific plate is subducting beneath New Zealand’s North Island, and to the south-west, the Australian plate is subducting beneath the South Island. Between these two subduction zones lies theAlpine fault, running along the mountainous spine of the South Island.

It now appears likely that the Christchurch quake resulted from activity on a fault extending directly eastward from the Alpine fault that remained unknown until last year, says Musson.

The new fault first came to light last September when a stronger but less calamitous quakeshook Darfield, 40 kilometres west of Christchurch. Musson says the latest quake probably resulted from an eastward continuation of activity on the same fault. “It has probably not moved for tens of thousands of years, so lots of strain built up,” says Musson.

Christchurch was understandably unprepared for activity on a fault that is only now making its presence known. But two factors made today’s damage worse. The quake was just 5 kilometres down, limiting the amount of energy it dissipated before reaching Christchurch from its epicentre just 10 kilometres away. Also, the rock on either side of the fault accelerated almost three times as fast as in a typical quake, says Musson, so the shaking was extra violent – and significantly greater than the levels Christchurch’s structures have been designed to withstand