7.2 Wake up Call
September 3, 2010 10:49 AM   Subscribe

At 4:35 am local time, a 7.2 earthquake hit just outside of Christchurch New Zealand. Reports are just coming in of power outages, damage, etc. 7.2 is considered a major earthquake.
posted by agatha_magatha (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We are on the western edge of Christchurch and we were woken by it. Smashed glass and crockery everywhere, no electricity right now (hooray for cellular modem!) but we do have the cellphone networks. It's still dark (currently 5:55am here) but our five and seven year old kids are probably not going to want to sleep for a few days now. Waiting for it to be light enough to start cleaning up.

I saw one report online of collapsed buildings, but I reckon that's only likely if they were already structurally unsound. Hopefully no casualties.
posted by tracicle at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

If no major structural/infrastructure damage or casualties, that's incredibly fortunate. I hope all in Christchurch are well.
posted by blucevalo at 10:59 AM on September 3, 2010

Tracicle, I'm very glad to hear that you & the family are ok!! that must have been scary. hugs!
posted by supermedusa at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2010

In related news, a flaming orange eye was spotted on the horizon to the southeast.

(seriously, I hope folks are okay)
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:01 AM on September 3, 2010 [7 favorites]

Be safe New Zealand!
posted by gomichild at 11:02 AM on September 3, 2010

Twitter alerts reporting damage and large aftershocks.
posted by ericb at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2010

Holy yikes.

This Californian sends you best wishes and has fingers crossed for no or very very small aftershocks.
posted by rtha at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2010

Yipe, tracicle - you're the first person I thought of, and I'm glad you checked in & you and yours are ok!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2010

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says there is no immediate danger of a Pacific tsunami.
posted by ericb at 11:12 AM on September 3, 2010

I know its twisted, but this Brit really wishes he was in New Zealand right now...

Actually... It's possible my brother is in Christchurch right now. If he ever answered his damned phone I'd give him a shout.

NZ radio (TheRock) is claiming 7.4 and 30km deep. Mind you, they are also reporting rumours of looting, which sounds unlikely to me...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:21 AM on September 3, 2010

Oh and, look after yourselves Kiwis...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2010

The USGS has fair amount of info. If you are near there, fill out the "Did you feel it?" questionnaire.
posted by stefanie at 11:36 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I learned only recently that Unn Zudd was the location of the most violent volcanic eruption in recorded history.

Like up here in Washington State, the pretty landscape has a catastrophic side we're foolish to ignore...
posted by 7-7 at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2010

7.2 is serious; the strongest earthquake I've been through in 50 years in California was the 6.7 Northridge quake which caused US$20BILLION in damage and 72 deaths, due to its epicenter being in the middle of suburban L.A. and its high "ground acceleration". I was 2.8 miles from the epicenter... in a waterbed... with a nervous wife and nervous dog. Thrill ride!

Also, don't assume damage is worst near the epicenter. My apartment building was mostly undamaged; my father's, five miles farther away, was a total loss.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2010

Yeah, been listening to the radio on my cell (I am loving technology right now). I also heard reports of looting. Here's some photos of damage downtown - all older buildings. Also the river that runs through Christchurch breached its banks at one point, don't know if that was significant or not.

Another aftershock, that's a good one.
posted by tracicle at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2010

Probably having a noticeable aftershock every ten minutes. Still no power - apparently many substations are offline, the airport is closed due to runway damage, rail is shut down. One guy on the radio who lives on a spit of land between the estuary and the ocean said he'd jumped in his car at the first jolt, only to find that the only bridge off the spit had been lifted up about a foot and traffic was already backed up as people tried to drive across it. I hope this prepaid modem lasts - we really take for granted our access to the outside world. I feel better being connected.
posted by tracicle at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2010

Like everyone else, I hope NZer's are all fine, etc - - but this is not the type of run-of-the-mill news story I expect to see on MeFi.
posted by fairmettle at 12:30 PM on September 3, 2010

I love NZ as a country and as a people and hope for the best.
posted by maxwelton at 12:36 PM on September 3, 2010

A 7.2 quake is not run of the mill. I hope, though, that it turns out to be a non-event (as much as possible) for the folks who got shaken out of bed by it.
posted by rtha at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2010

Onn CNN they are showing photos and interviewing folks who took them. In arears outside of Christchurch they are showing a town theater with its facade missing, various shops which have lost their second floors and some buildings with crumbled features.
posted by ericb at 12:54 PM on September 3, 2010

Video: Hospitals overwhelmed.
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2010

Radio New Zealand live stream.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2010

PolarBearFarm has been wandering around and taking pictures. Very fortunate that it was so early, or those collapsed buildings could have taken a big toll on people in the streets.

In all seriousness though, I'm getting better news from Sky News Australia than I am from nz news sources.

Complete fucking news fail. If it doesn't involve a change to villify anyone under the age of 25, beneficiaries, or cutting and pasting Garth McVicar and National Party press releases, our press are utterly unable to cope. I wouldn't know about it but for the #eqnz tweeting.

Good to hear you're OK tracicle.
posted by rodgerd at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

but this is not the type of run-of-the-mill news story I expect to see on MeFi.

If we can cope with "minor hostage drama in US business, no-one hurt" spawning posts and metatalks, I think the denizens of North America can live with hearing about earthquakes that aren't directly relevant to them.
posted by rodgerd at 1:08 PM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

The news sites here are now reporting 7.4. Not quite sure how that works, but IANASeismologist.

I was in Chch a couple of weeks ago, meeting the other half of the team in my new job. Come to think of it I was in New York City in July 2001. Maybe I should just stay home.
posted by Sparx at 1:11 PM on September 3, 2010

We were there last November. Christchurch is a gorgeous place and it was a beautiful time of year to go, just turning spring to summer.

7.2 is a huge quake by any standard. Hope everyone is ok.
posted by bonehead at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Reports here are saying that the epicentre was 30 km SE of the city centre. Does that put it in the Banks Peninsula somewhere?
posted by bonehead at 1:28 PM on September 3, 2010

Whoah, just listening to a bloke on the radio describing being woken by bricks falling on him.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:39 PM on September 3, 2010

William Cottrell, of Glenroy, near Mt Hutt, owns Gunyah. He said the 1912 homestead had been utterly destroyed. "You can drive a car through the hole in our roof.''

"Two chimneys fell and demolished the antique 2-poster bed we were in. We were so lucky.''

He said his leg had been crushed under some bricks. "But I can't believe I'm alive.''

The mountain of bricks then crashed through the bedroom floor into the dining room below.

Poor Christchurch, one of my favourite places. The city centre's older buildings sound badly affected. Rebuilding will change its character dramatically.
posted by rory at 1:58 PM on September 3, 2010

The tv news just announced it was downgraded to 7.1
posted by Sparx at 2:28 PM on September 3, 2010

Not quite sure how that works, but IANASeismologist.

More data allows a better measurement. As the detailed records get pulled from the seismographs in the filed and transmitted, it allows a higher confidence measurement.

Indeed, as of this writing, NZ Geonet is reporting it as a 7.1, and the USGS is reporting it as a 7.0
posted by eriko at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2010

USGS has it at 7.0.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:48 PM on September 3, 2010

NZ Herald rolling news.

More pics. Incredible shots in the first link of the River Avon, one of the loveliest parts of town: the whole river bed uplifted, and big cracks through the neighbouring park.

Twitter is the place to follow it. A state of emergency just declared, CBD closed off, and residents being told to conserve water: there are concerns the sewerage system is damaged. Mobile (cell) networks about to run out of power. No reports of deaths yet, but with all the damaged walls and chimneys around aftershocks are a real concern.
posted by rory at 2:51 PM on September 3, 2010

Holy shit. They were really lucky not to have more serious injuries, although some of the building damage looks pretty bad.

Glad to hear you're ok, tracicle.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 3:03 PM on September 3, 2010

I'm in Christchurch. Power came back here at 9am or so, water is still flaky.

I think the luckiest thing about this was the timing - 4.30 am meant that just about everyone was in bed, and most of the damage was facades of central city buildings. If this had happened at midday of a weekday, it would have been carnage.
posted by xiw at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2010

We got power about half an hour ago. Civil Defense is being deliberately pessimistic about water and sewer access. so we're going to head to my parents down south for the night and see what tomorrow brings. No buses running, airport is still closed although I've heard elsewhere that they only need to inspect the runways, not necessarily that there is any damage. The news is pretty useless as no one has any concrete information, so it's just lots of photos and people explaining to the reporters how scary it was.

One reporter mentioned that Civil Defense was getting up and running about 45 minutes ago - which means it took them 5 hours to establish themselves. That seems ridiculous to me.
posted by tracicle at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2010

I just sent an email to my (very) deadpan-humored kiwi brother, asking if he had friends in Christchurch & whether they were okay. My brother is in Auckland (i.e. on the other island!) and I guess he thought my alarm over such a "massive" earthquake was a bit over the top.

He just wrote back: "Yes, it was incredibly massive. Stony faced news reader has hinted that there may be some injuries. Horrific footage of " widespread" damage including quite a big pile of bricks and shop where some of the things had fallen on the floor. We also watched a harrowing interview with a very hungover woman who was going to drive up the hill in case there is a tsunami. Will keep you updated as events unfold."
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:40 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Strong quake ay bro?"
"Yis bro, pretty strong."
"How strong would you say bro?"
"Strong as bro. Strong as."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:27 PM on September 3, 2010 [11 favorites]

The organisation I work for called its Crisis Management Team together (I got a call at 6:30am). All employees OK, our systems worked pretty well. But this will impact Christchurch for a very, very long time.
posted by vac2003 at 4:31 PM on September 3, 2010

Aftershocks mostly slight now, I think we've all developed our sea legs. Outside they're hardly noticeable at all - I see the branches on the apple tree moving before I feel it. All the kids in the neighbourhood are playing football at the local park right now, while I'm cleaning up the broken glass and restacking cupboards in case of more aftershocks while we're away.

We are incredibly fortunate here, especially if you compare Christchurch to Haiti. Stable permanent buildings, good building codes, decent infrastructure in place, and somehow a reasonably strong quake so close to the city has dissipated enough that most structures are safe, and only two serious injuries so far. I feel very lucky indeed. We currently have phone, power, TV, internet and water, and are unhurt and not particularly traumatised. Cellphone coverage is expected to drop off as tower batteries fail. In our part of town I suspect life will go back to normal within a few days. Not so much the opposite side where homes have sunk, or in the city which has now been completely evacuated.
posted by tracicle at 4:47 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Christchurch has a reputation for being the instant coffee of New Zealand metropolitan centers (flat, white and boring). Even still I hope people are safe.

FWIW it's my hometown and it's been a morning of making sure everyone I love is safe.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:07 PM on September 3, 2010

It's strange, because they're always telling us here in Wellington to prepare for the worst. Now seismologists are saying they fear a bigger quake to hit because the location of this one was "unanticipated." Let's hope even the seismologists are not not always right.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2010

NZ quake damage to cost billions: "The quake, felt throughout the South Island and the lower North Island, was the most destructive in New Zealand since the 1931 tremor in Hawke's Bay that killed 256 people."

"Meanwhile, as residents took stock of the quake damage they also had an eye on looming bad weather with destructive gale-force winds up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour predicted to arrive tomorrow." Keep away from wobbly-looking walls...

And yet if there's any coverage in today's print Guardian I haven't been able to find it. It's as if the world press is only interested in earthquakes if hundreds die - never mind that it's a miracle that hundreds weren't. When the reality of the structural damage sinks in, the disruption to people's lives and livelihoods is going to be huge.
posted by rory at 12:38 PM on September 4, 2010

Photos at stuff.co.nz.
posted by rory at 12:48 PM on September 4, 2010

Photos at National Geographic.
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2010

More photos here
posted by Samuel Farrow at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2010

New Zealand had turned down offers of support from the US military, based in Hawaii, and the UN he said. This was met with surprise, [Civil Defence head John Hamilton] said.

It's ok chaps, we can deal with this ourselves. But thanks anyway, and do stop by for tea next time you're on the way to Antarctica.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:58 PM on September 4, 2010

"Jenni Carter, the vicar at the century-old St John's Anglican Church, was almost thrown out of her bed by the violence of the quake.

She raced out of her cottage to find that the church, near the epicentre of the quake, 30km west of Christchurch, had lost its spire.

“It was obvious that the church was stuffed as soon as I saw it,” Ms Carter told The Australian."
- The Australian

emphasis mine
posted by moody cow at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2010

We live in Kirwee, which I'd guess puts us around five kms from the epicenter, if I was clear which direction it was. After a night staring at a bottle of water for movement by flashlight we just got power back about two hours ago.

It is a 100 year old farmhouse, but we were more fortunate than some neighbors with newer brick construction whose homes are write-offs and a few are in hospital. Losing a chimney and having plaster damage on all of our walls seems like an easy trade.
posted by arruns at 10:01 PM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

New Zealand quake [could have torn, maybe] new fault line, geologist says.
Canterbury University geology professor Mark Quigley said what “looks to us that it could be a new fault” had ripped across the ground and pushed some surface areas up. The quake was caused by the ongoing collision between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, said Mr. Quigley, who is leading a team trying to pin down the source of the quake.

“One side of the earth has lurched to the right ... up to 3.5 meters and in some places been thrust up,” Mr. Quigley told National Radio.
This "OMFG! Quake tore new fault!!" headline is popping up all over the place, but keep in mind this just may be a fault that hadn't been identified before.
Mark Quigley of New Zealand's Canterbury University said an area of the fault plain in rural Canterbury ruptured and caused the quake.

He told Radio New Zealand on Sunday that one side of the earth had basically lurched to the right about 3.5 meters, breaking roads apart and snapping at least two houses in half.

Quigley said no-one knew the fault was there before the quake occurred at a depth of 10 km at 4.35 a.m. on Saturday (1635 GMT Friday), as there had been no physical sign on the surface.

He said that means it's either a new fault, or at least, the first time a quake has punched through to the surface.
Has an earthquake ever torn a new fault anywhere? Is this even possible?

The NZ Active Faults Database is here if you want to poke around. There are a lot of them, so it's quite plausible to me that this fault just hadn't been found yet. That was one hell of a way to announce itself, though.
posted by maudlin at 6:24 AM on September 5, 2010

It's strange, because they're always telling us here in Wellington to prepare for the worst.

One of the more disconcerting experiences I've had was working in Auckland 5 or so years ago on a short term contract, asking about emergency supplies in the (large, multinational HQ) building I was working in. "Oh, ho--ho-ho, you Wellingtonians, I guess you have to worry about that sort of thing, we don't need to bother."

Parochial pronvincialism of the dumbest sort. Wellington's position on a fault line seems to leave people thinking "Wellington is high risk" means "I am low or no risk", all the while ignoring the whole country exists because of the Rim of Fire faults (and, in that case, that Auckland is built on an active volcanic plateau)
posted by rodgerd at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2010

Everyone in my company has a 10l container of water under their desk. We have emergency kits and food on every floor. Assuming we're not simply crushed in the rubble, we could probably hold out for several days until the cavalry arrived.

We had to nag the management about disaster preparation. I bet we can get some more action faster now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2010

Local universe students have coordinated with Civil Defense to assist where they can. The kids and I are going to join them in shovelling silt. A friend's family is sleeping on their living room floor because the rest if their house is not yet declared safe, the roof has partially caved in. Saw lots of damaged homes yesterday from collapsed brick chimneys. Those have to be the worst idea ever.
posted by tracicle at 4:04 PM on September 5, 2010

Oh boy, tracicle, I can hardly being to imagine the cleanup work. Good on you and the kids.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:35 PM on September 5, 2010

My cousin has a mirror business in Christchurch. Not the happiest of campers right now.

But yeah, our building codes can be thanked for this not being any worse than it was. Here in Wellington (where I slept right through it) a lot of our non-wooden buildings have been upgraded with stabilisers and the like. Probably some of the safest places to be, now.

And seconding the astounding lameness of our national media. Interview sample:
Power company guy: "All the big utilities are in good condition, the smaller ones will be fixed in a couple of days. 98% of people will have power by then."
Interviewer: "And what about all the people who won't?

Oh lord the clean up. :(
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 7:22 PM on September 5, 2010

Sadly, it appears there has been a fatality as a result of the earthquake.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2010

But yeah, our building codes can be thanked for this not being any worse than it was.

Yet what did Stuff report? "Churches filling to give thanks for miracle!" Fuck that science and engineering, folks.
posted by rodgerd at 11:37 PM on September 5, 2010

I'm glad that our neighbors to the deep south have been cautious and safe through all of this. Our thoughts are with you.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 10:55 AM on September 8, 2010

Runthrough of the quake and its aftershocks. It just. Keeps. Going.
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

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