Posts in Category: Earthquake

Earthquake 1331 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 8:33:00 AM Categories: comparative energy use, cars Earthquake

13 June 2011

Now I've discovered how to work the Stats button I see there is only ever one pageview, and since I haven't found out how to disable the wretched blog's monitoring of my own vanity viewing, this means it's going to be quite easy to write entries cos I'm the only reader. One's ego is suitably deflated.

Anyway we have bought a car, a 660cc tardis, minute on the outside and like a cathedral inside.

After listening to her valiantly trying to describe it to him, I emailed my wife's brother-in-law, Dr Morrison.

Suzuki Wagon R is what my wife was groping about in her rather limited grasp of the English tongue to tell you. It is a Kei Car, pronounced, presumably by the Japanese, Kay, though given that you as a splendid Australian would pronounce that Kye, this information can only be of limited linguistical assistance. They are a Japanese tax dodge, limited to 660cc motors, 11 feet long, and 1.6 metres wide. - Feet? Metres? - Must have been an American giving the details. - We filled it with petrol to the very, very top, drove 44.8 kilometres, refilled it, and just managed to squeeze 2.03 litres in, so that's 62 and a third miles per gallon. Imperial gallon, not the curious measures used by American gentlemen. The man in the petrol station was disgusted with me for buying so little. (Luckily I had my rifle with me so I shot him.) It looks exactly like a box. Absolutely hideous. When we next c'llect you from the airport, bring a brown paper bag for Maggie to wear because she will be so ashamed. You will enjoy it though because the headroom is vast, sufficient for a short person like me to wear a busby in comfort. If we painted it red we could probably install a mezzanine, paint '186 Harrow and Wealdstone' on the front, and drive round London gathering passengers. Me, I can't *wait* for Peak Oil so that while I sit in misery I can chuckle at all the other people sitting in even greater misery in their Pajero or Land Cruiser.

Dr Morrison failed to respond so I mentioned the purchase to Mr Knight, who did reply:

Hurrah, you have a Suzuki Vagina.
At my last job I worked with an Indian bloke who drove one of these 'toasters'. Somebody asked him one day what it was called and in a thick Indian accent he replied a Suzuki 'Vagin Uh'. Excuse me, every body swore he said Vagina. He has been in NZ for a long time and is a lovely bloke but still has trouble with W's and R's. -
That's pretty good fuel consumption btw. - In other news we had an exciting 5.5 yesterday morning; we had at least 5 seconds warning as we both heard it coming. We had time to look at each other and ask "Is that a truck or an earthquake" then listen some more before it hit. We had shite weather this weekend, I hardly rode at all. That is all.

It looks, as Mr Knight has mentioned, like an electric toaster but:

Yea! we shall all (esp the children) call it a Vagin Uh henceforth. - I spotted your 5.5. I thought, 'That'll liven up their morning.' - You didn't have shite weather this weekend, because we had it all and there wouldn't have been enough left for you. We are still having it, too. They specially arranged it for the bank holiday. We did, however, manage a little tandem ride but I am finding all upright bikes give me sores on my sit-bones, so the long-talked-of recumbent tandem has to conjure itself into being. I also *need* to build a wet-weather-recumbent to cope with the trauma of exercise for when my wife chooses not to accompany me.

What neither of us knew was that my possession of a new microcar was not going to dominate our immediate conversations, because at lunchtime today I had a perky note to the effect that Christchurch had just had another 5.5:

I see you're having an eventful lunchtime according to eqnews.

Mr Knight was almost at once at his keyboard -

Yes, I was very scared. I may have to go and change my troosers. We had a mild foreshock and then a big *ucking 5.5 that *everybody* is saying was closer to a 6.0 and then lots of aftershocks of the aftershock that Geonet aren't bothering to report.
I was in an electronics store on Colombo street near the centre of town and *everything* ended up on the floor. It was like in one of those videos of an earthquake in a shop.
- Oh *uck, I've just come back into the office after another massive aftershock that seemed to go on forever. Sirens everywhere, dust etc. I saw a concrete building opposite flex and move relative to its neighbour. The traffic is now horrendous and I chose today to take the motorbike in rather than cycle. I'll have a look to see what it was. Geonet haven't posted it yet but the quake drum trace is much bigger than the previous 5.5 Still having big aftershocks, here's another one...

Well of course it turned out to be a 6, so all the news channels switched onto overdrive and the earthquake minister flew down to hold everybody's hand. On the phone, Mr Knight told me that the aftershocks were more-or-less continuous, and all the interested nerds - which is me, given that I'm now the sole reader - can rush to the website to watch the seismic drum recorder. As before there's been lots of liquifaction, and the drains, all newly repaired, have bubbled up to the surface once more. Until someone mentions it, you don't realise that an air-filled drain underground, during an earthquake, is like a balloon in water, and as soon as the soil behaves like a liquid, the drains all float to the top.

Erathquake II 

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:31:00 AM Categories: Earthquake

Because I just do, I get emails every time an earthquake happens. In the last week Christchurch got 191 of them. Norm'lly there are two or three a day, scattered about all over the country (well all under the country of course) but this last week there have been none elsewhere, just zillions of them in Christchurch and Christchurch alone. But today there was a 4.2 under the sea 800km to the north. So I, amateur earthquakeologist that I am, divine that Christchurch relieved a lot of tectonic pressure or something.

My spies send me both good and bad news. Mr Dunlop's good news is that he got a ride in a police car. His bad news he's lost all his belongings. All of them. The whole lot. Everything.

Hello Richard
On Sunday I was given permission to enter the Christchurch Central Business District exclusion zone in order to check on the flat. The police and the army are maintaining a tight control around the cordoned-off area. CBD residents, like myself, are only being let in one person at a time, and only then with a police escort. Got my very first ride in a police car.
Over the last few days, I've had growing concerns about not getting an opportunity to retrieve items from the flat. Unfortunately these concerns have turned out to be valid, as when I'd checked on my home, I'd found that it had been "red-stickered" (ie scheduled for demolition). Access to the building is strictly forbidden. Most of the material things in the house I won't particularly miss, but there were a number of personal mementos which I do regret losing.

Mr Knight's good news is that his daughter was eight yesterday. Remember that sweet little baby that Mrs Knight lugged off to the Leicester Space Centre wot my good friend Her Majesty opened back in whenever it was? And when she came back from the Space Centre with her sweet little baby there lay Mr Knight covered in bandages in the rump department, fretfully examining his Ratracer to see if it had sustained more scratches than he did when it playfully flung him into the air at thirty miles an hour on that diabolically dull track in Abbey Park in Leicester that we swore we'd never ever use again and never ever did. - 'She' refers of course to Mrs Knight, not the Queen. Mr Knight's newly skinned and bloodied rump was of limited interest to the Queen, even back then. - Well anyway now she's 8. - Miss Knight, not Her Majesty. - My this is getting confusing, so we shall resort once more to quoting other people's emails:

I spent Saturday helping Rob and Viv clear up their place. Well half of the time anyway because we'd all run outside whenever there was an aftershock. Which was all day. It is interesting to watch the waves run down a street - you can actually see them and the effect on the buildings. We all puzzled over some deep scores on the wall of the building behind Rob's place. After some investigation we found the cause - it was the steel capping on the roof of the building next to Rob's making contact with the building behind - the building is approximately 8 meters high - and it's separated from the building behind by just under 1 meter. Hard to believe that a concrete structure could flex that much I know but I'll take some photos next time I'm there if it is still standing (the engineer said it was *ucked, mate). Only two bikes downstairs were severely munted. Unfortunately only one belonged to Rob. The others have none or only superficial damage. We managed to right the big lathe but the mill is just too heavy. We'll need to get a large hoist in to do that. Its fall was broken by an office chair, a c1910 childs bicycle and two large glass storage jars. The two jars are unbroken. A large rack of small bicycle spares fell over and scattered everywhere. These all needed picking up and sorting before we could get to the machine tools. Still no water or power. Rob and Viv have been staying with us since Tuesday night when we got back from our tour.
Sunday was Claudia's birthday; she is 8 going on 16. She was 2 when we emigrated, where did that go eh? She got a new bike... We had intended to organise a baby cheetah encounter at the local zoo which she would have *loved* but all the cheetahs are undergoing counselling and don't want to play at the moment. Buying a bike in Christchurch at short notice is difficult at present and I thank the staff at Papanui Cycles for helping out enormously. Keith's bike shop (that one I took you to) is no more I'm afraid. Sadly Keith also lost his house at Redcliffs. I hope he is OK. His mother who lives with him is also a survivor of the devastating 1931 Napier quake. Claudia rode 17km on her new bike and wanted to carry on, we rode on a favourite mtb track and spent most of the time dodging large cracks, she will be an expert before long.
A new difficulty for everybody in Christchurch is dust. When the liquefaction dries out it turns to dust. We have an estimated 180,000 tonnes of dust and strong winds forecast for this afternoon. I rode to work this morning wearing a dust mask. It was truly horrible. I got snot *everywhere*. We have had a series of large aftershocks this morning that had my sphincter all puckering up in a most unseemly manner. I'm going for a walk at lunchtime, in a field.

And because this blog lacks pictures I shall direct readers to here where they may see Mr Knight's boss's house with its new rock.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010 10:22:45 PM Categories: Earthquake New Zealand
Yet more news from Christchurch, where the aftershocks continue, sometimes as many as four in a quarter of an hour, their magnitude varying from around 3.6 to 5.2. We're beginning to learn that a big earthquake is only the first bit; until the planet settles down again there's a lot of jostling for room among its components. If you're an obsessive like me you subscribe to and get an email for every decent-sized earthquake in the country, though at 178 since Saturday you have to be a True Nerd to maintain interest. Obv. Mr Knight is the office Nerd:

Sent: Monday, September 06, 2010 3:26 PM
Subject: earthquake
We're sitting here at work betting on the magnitude of the aftershocks. Where we are, we get to hear a very loud, low, "wump" and then you get the motion. 15 minutes later I get the email and inform everybody of the results. However it is now getting confusing because we've had 2 quakes inside the last 15 minutes, the last one of which was a real whopper. We seem to be getting a lot of them.
There is definitely a feeling of the Dunkirk spirit here although of course I wasn't there, I only imagine that's what it was like.
The old Waimakariri bridge is now shut until further notice, so it's the motorway bridge for me now unless that is going to be shut as well. That will mean a 150km detour through Oxford.

And Martin van den NeiwaalbotherIstillcan'tspellit is reporting hoarding and general shopemptiness. (Shopemptiness is a new word. One has to develop a lexicon to keep up with current events.)

Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 3:14 PM
Subject: Hamstereinkauf
Today I took a stroll and visited the local shops and supermarkets. I stood and watched someone at Pack N Save fill their empty trolley with the entire supply of bottled water on the shelf, leaving... well, none. As Hanna said, unless they are gathering supplies for their entire water-less neighbourhood (possible) .. ooh shakke!!! ooh.. OK, it's over.. Um, unless they are gathering supplies for their entire water-less neighbourhood there's no need to take all the water leaving others with none whatsoever. The supermarkets are doing very well - $$$. They were only down for one day (Saturday), but since then it's been flat out buy buy buy. I went to Countdown supermarket as well and they have signs up; 4 bottles of water per person, 2 packs of juice max .per person. The shelves are still largely empty for 'essentials' such as water, juice, tomatoes in cans, toilet paper, bread (though not as bad), and strangely potato chips.
In some ways I see this whole experience as a precursor to the effects of Peak Oil. I find it interesting to think about the things we rely on day to day, and how, when there is an interruption, a sudden discontinuity, how we can survive and maintain 'normality'. It's easy to survive a 'temporary interruption to broadcasting' by being prepared and stocking up on things. Bottled water, food etc. One thing that has been very useful here where the tap water is not yet safe for drinking, has been a bottle of no-water hand cleaner. It actually goes a long way. The small bottle we (two people) have is only 100mL or so and is still largely full after four days. Some kind of water jerry can with a piddly little tap would also be good (we don't have one), filled with boiled water/rain water. Of course, stockpiling is only good for so long. In a prolonged decline, Peak Oil scenario, the no-water hand cleaner will be used up after a couple of weeks, the store of rice will eventually be eaten, and the meths for boiling the questionable water will eventually run out. That will become the new normal and a real test of our survival skills.
Even with rationing, the Countdown supermarket stocks are slightly depleted (Pic: Martin van den Nieuwelaar)

Mr Knigght (another bad spelling day here) reports everyone is now getting a bit fed up. Apparently there's only so much fun to be had out of losing your water supply electricity job and sewerage system and having your house knocked down.

Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 10:19 AM
Subject: earthquake
I'm getting a little tired of these aftershocks now. We only tend to comment on the bigger (5+) ones. We are still getting these larger aftershocks regularly; I experienced a 5.1 this morning riding to work. I was stopped at traffic lights when I heard a very loud bang and then all the lights started swaying in unison, closely followed by the sound of falling masonry. Usually I'm sat at work and my monitor does a little dance across the desk so it made a nice change. The aftershocks are doing much damage to already weakened structures. The Lyttleton tunnel is now closed due to damage from one of the 5.4 yesterday.
My ride in this morning was cack - mild drizzle - but as the ECan website said the bridge was open I thought I'd ride anyway. Well ECan are a bunch of hairy fat liars and I got to the closed bridge with no signs of any shuttle "service" to take cyclists around so I had to ride down the motorway again. Fortunately going south only requires a short 2km hop. I'm not too sure what I'm going to do tonight coming home since all the roads that lead up to the bridge from the south are now all closed northbound due to damage. I'll have to ride on the motorway again, but this will be a much longer trip.

Anyway I know he did get home because he was very kind and posted all his photos, full-size, here: And we know they're going to be alright because the government have sent in 35 counsellors at the perky price of $2,500,000. I thought I might nip down and have a look myself, but John swiftly countermanded this decision:'Well it's a waste of fuel, and to be honest, we might as well wait till we get one here.'

Earthquake report 2 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:31:27 AM Categories: Earthquake New Zealand
The diligent reader will recall that I keep a German female violin-maker in Christchurch, for the twin purposes of recording earthquake damage and supplying me with A-strings. In fact Mrs Violinmaker only supplies the A-strings; it falls upon the shoulders of Mr Violinmaker to keep me abreast of earthquake damage in his partic'lar zone of Christchurch. The real spelling of Mr Violinmaker is of course Mr van den Nieuwelaar, according to that standard practice in English spelling by which a place called Hazebrur is actually spelt Happisburgh. Anyway I know of no keyboard in the history of computing that doesn't end up spelling Martin's surname as van der Neieiuweellieaarlaieu. So I don't even try. I expect he calls me Minndelont by way of vengeance. He rides recumbents and tandems, and so does Hanna. (Hanna is the violin-maker. See
Howsoever, here's his experience of this merry affair:
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2010 10:19 AM
Subject: Earthquake experience...
Saturday evening, Papanui 6km north-west of Christchurch centre.It has been a long day.  4:35am earthquake.  Strongest I've been in.  No power, no water.  Luckily a fine warm day today.All shops closed.  No fuel, no ATMs.  Many (1 out of 3) chimneys down.  Some local Papanui shops with big cracks that will probably be demolished.  Heard it's worse in the city but we're told to stay out.Had BBQ lunch with the neighbours at 90B.  Then power came back on.  Water is back on, but needs to be boiled.  Still getting significant aftershocks. One now!!!! eek...  doors going, house shaking.  OK, it has stopped.  Minor damage here at home, cars rolled forwards and backwards in garage, broken reversing light, lounge furniture suffering gouges but everyone is OK which is the main thing.  Not sure when the shops will sell food again, but we have supplies for a while.Monday morning.There is flooding in the Avonside/Bexley area (east side of city) I believe but haven't heard specific details on that.  They have liquefaction problems there with people reporting geysers spouting from the ground in their back yards.  Lots of silt and goop through houses, and combined with broken sewer and water mains (water is now back in 80% of houses in Christchurch)...  Large cracks in roads (un-passable by cars), bent bridges, downed power lines.The water storage tank behind the supermarket here in Papanui burst sending a torrent through the car par area and into the streams.  Kaiapoi township 15km north of city centre is very badly hit.  In one street all the houses are condemned.  Aftershocks are still going.  5:20 this morning a fairly big one, that's 48 hours later, almost to the hour!  Most people have been ordered to stay home till Wednesday. There is 7pm-7am curfew in the central business district and the army is coming in to help.  The local supermarket was open yesterday, and was very busy.  After reading about the Chilean earthquake we were personally very well prepared.  Others were not of course and I'm sure were surprised to find no ATMs working, nor petrol stations pumping.Our house is OK but one door doesn't close properly any more.  86 Proctor St lost a chimney.  Harolds fabric shop in the Papanui  shops has partially collapsed as has the Egyptian souvlaki shop.  Edex toys opposite also has big cracks.  Alvorados restaurant in town next to where I work is a write-off; you can see tables and chairs on the second level because the walls are gone!  My building, Radio Network House (I hear) is habitable despite bits of concrete falling in the stair well.  It's a hub for communications so is quite important.
Martin van den Nieuwelaar
Bicycle sizing and gearing software -
Internet backbone traffic visualisation -
For myself, of course, I'm thankful that I live in Motueka because we've suffered none of the above, though I don't know that being deprived of an Egyptian souvlaki shop would be too much of a hardship. The last time I needed to buy an Egyptian souvlaki - well of course I've not the faintest idea what one is, and don't look at me like that because you haven't either.


Sunday, September 5, 2010 8:45:16 AM Categories: Earthquake
Woke on Saturday at 4.38 am with the bed swaying about, which it did for ten seconds before settling down, so I scribbled the time on a scrap of paper next to the alarm clock and went back to sleep.

But at breakfast there was an excited reporter telling the nation that Darfield had experienced the biggest earthquake since Inangahua in 1969. It struck at 4.35, and therefore took 3 minutes to travel the 260km to my house.
I had a look at a map: Darfield and Christchurch are two points of a triangle (obv.) and Mr Knight, member of the Diaspora, lives twenty miles away at the third point in Rangiora.

His phone was engaged so as a matter of course I dug out his sceptical email of last week

Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: earthquake
I have yet to feel *any* earthquake here yet. I fear they are a myth, a bit like that global warming that those greenies started. Incidentally I hear that the Tasman glacier calved the biggest ever iceberg this weekend..

and replied

Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 8:46 AM
Subject: Re: earthquake
So... erm...

- La. - he promptly phoned, telling me that - inferring, that is to say, certain things about my parents' marital state.

Steph and the Knightlets, near Rangiora (All pics by Bob Knight)
He told me one of the fields next to the river has dropped a metre, and the river has dropped into it so it's now a lake. The bridge he cycles to Christchurch over has been damaged so they'll almost certainly close it, and he says it's likely the only contact with the city will be over the motorway bridge - not much use on a bicycle. - Otherwise he said they were fine; all the books fell off the shelves; kids very frightened, immense noise like a train going past, eight loud and shaking aftershocks of 4 - 5 on the Richter scale, but surprisingly no broken glass in his house and no visible damage, and his water supply was okay. He told me the sky was full of helicopters.

Later, I had an email:

Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: Earthquake
Now then, just got back from a walk into Rangiora town. No visible damage in the immediate area, however people are panic petrol buying - the queues are at least 10 vehicles long in either direction. This will mean that the petrol will run out which will trigger more panic buying elsewhere etc. exactly what happened in Ingerland some years ago: there wasn't actually a real shortage of petrol but the perception and the panic buying really did make a shortage. I witnessed one incident of mild petrol pump rage when somebody jumped the queue by manipulating the give way rules to jump ahead at the entrance.
More later

And indeed more did come later, a total (so far) of 64 aftershocks of about 4.6 - 5.2 on Mr Richter's scale:

Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 5:17 PM
Subject: earthquake

Ooh, just had another big after shock, just before 5pm. I went out for a ride at lunchtime to survey the local damage. Rangiora has got off exceedingly lightly. We have a few burst water mains, but we still have water and we still have electrickery. What we don't have is food in the shops or petrol after all the panic buying. I set off south east through Tuahiwi and towards Kaiapoi. Just through Tuahiwi I came upon the first crack in the road across a field through the road and into the other field, probably about half and inch wide and with about the same vertical deformation. I got very excited and stopped to examine it for some time. I then continued to Kaiapoi and began to understand the real damage that had happened. Kaiapoi has suffered very badly indeed. There are lots of fallen chimneys through roofs, lots of walls and a few complete structures down; there are many wide and deep fissures in the ground, some are wide open and some are closed, and high ridges have formed across roads. All the bridges across the Kaiapoi river have significant damage, it appears that the river is now slightly narrower than it was before and the bridges have buckled upwards or snapped completely. There is evidence of serious liquifaction everywhere. Kaiapoi sits at the junction of three rivers and has a high water table and there is silt and sand all through the town centre. Kaiapoi has no water or electricity. The largest vertical deformation I saw was about 1 metre and the widest fissure about the same. I continued south to see if the old Waimakariri bridge was open or not. This is the only way of (Ooh another big one just then) cycling to Christchurch and is my life line. It was open but now has a step to get up on to it. Either the bridge has gone up or the river bank has gone down. The railway line alongside now looks like spaghetti, what was once straight is now buckled and distorted beyond belief.I got home and grabbed Steph and the kids to go rubber necking in the car, I wanted them to see the mess before the cleanup starts. We took some amazing photos which I'll send on later. I don't have the camera here, Steph still has it around a friend's house.

More later

Footbridge, Kaiapoi
Naturally the politicians all came on air to tell everybody the obvious, and the police declared a curfew ostensibly to stop people wandering under unsafe buildings but quite possibly with a view to stopping them inserting their hands into unsafe shop windows and withdrawing souvenirs like plasma screen TVs.

This morning I phoned to see how they'd got through the night - there were 22 aftershocks of around 3.8 to 5.1 between 9 pm Saturday and 9 am Sunday - and demanded all the photos.

Uplift; Knightlets to show scale

As you see, the photos arrived, along with a note about the soil liquification.

Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2010 2:47 PM
Subject: liquefaction
I have been surprised by the amount of sand and silt that has bubbled up from the ground around most of the large cracks and fissures. I'm pretty sure that this is because of the wet nature of the ground that Kaiapoi is built upon, but I don't know if this has contributed to the extensive damage that Kaiapoi has suffered or not. Here's some photos of the silt that liquefaction has bubbled up. I also saw evidence of sewers that had been forced upwards by the same mechanism, the covers standing proud of the road surface by 200mm or so.

Silt volcanoes, result of soil liquification

This is of course mildly off-topic, so we shall try to return to the altogether more fascinating subject of how to make a bicycle go a fifth of a mile per hour faster.
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