New Zealand's Shaky Isles live up to their reputation

Posted by barbara on November 8, 2014


Christchurch Cathedral in early January 2014, in the aftermath of the 2011 quake.

Anyone growing up in New Zealand can't escape the 'near and present danger' of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But as the quakes that devastated Christchurch in 2010 and 2011 demonstrated, some parts of the North and South Island have always been considered more vulnerable than others.

Historically, Wellington was widely considered to be the most likely city 'in the firing line' as it sits atop the South Island alpine fault that runs through the west coast of the South Island, across Cook Strait and underneath NZ's capital.

On the east coast of the South Island, 100 kilometres away from the Alpine Fault, Christchurch was has long been considered a much safer bet. 

But all that changed on 4 September 2010, when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the South Island's biggest city. The subsequent 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011 devastated the 'City of Churches'. 



In early 2014, shipping containers prop up one of the heritage buildings still standing after the 2011 quake.

Having visited New Zealand for over 30 years, I remain fascinated, and concerned, by the ticking time bomb that underlies the 'Shaky Isles'.

My linked article, penned in 2010, predates the first Christchurch earthquake and the second that in 2011, devastated the city of churches, and so much more. Shaky_Isles_prequake_17-7-10.pdf

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