Earthquake Weather

So the story about Antonin Scalia’s death jumped up on my Facebook newsfeed today. When I clicked on it, the “Related Stories” section appeared below, with the most related story apparently being a You Tube clip of ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’.

I seem to recall a similar outpouring of spite when Margaret Thatcher died. The ’80s still own us in so many ways.

A couple hours later, this was followed up by my newsfeed popping with stories about a 5.9 (later downgraded to 5.7) earthquake in Christchurch. Nobody appears to have been seriously injured, but it comes just 8 days before the 5-year anniversary of the big earthquake that destroyed half the city, so understandably a few nerves have been rattled.

There is a weird superstition in New Zealand that oppressively sunny, still days are “Earthquake weather”, and it has been very sunny and still lately. The two big killer quakes of New Zealand history (Napier 1931, killed 256, and Christchurch 2011, killed 185) both happened on sunny days in February.

To be clear, this particular quake is considered to be a late aftershock from 2011… but then 2011 was an aftershock from an earlier, bigger  Christchurch quake in 2010 (which measured 7.2 but killed no one), so it is of little comfort to know this. The damage caused by an earthquake depends greatly upon where it is centered and how deep underground it is. Shallow earthquakes in built-up areas cause terrible damage, even when their Richter force is fairly moderate.

Rob and I were fortunate enough to have visited Christchurch not long before the 2010 quake. I’d been there many times before, but it was a first for him. We trundled about the city for the day and looked at statues and architecture. I’m glad that he got to see it (and love it) in its original glory. It is so very different now.

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Me at the Cathedral in 2010
Chch cathedral quake copy
The same place after the quake in 2011 (arrow indicates where I was standing)

 

We had done the tour of Napier in 2009 too, so knew already that there is something to be said for a city rebuilding (and rebuilding well) after an earthquake.Time will tell whether Christchurch ends up similarly bold and united in its architecture, but these new aftershocks won’t help.

Kia kaha, once again my friends. This too will pass.

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