Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Earthquake

I was happy to see Ron's call for posts Accretionary Wedge #41, and I knew right away what my post would be about, but I've had to wait until my thesis was submitted (done) before I could write it up.

When I was an exchange student in New Zealand in 1994-1995 I kept a diary every day. A lot of it is teenage rubbish, but some of it records an amazing year of experiences. Here is an excerpt from March 23, 1995:

There was an earthquake this morning. It lasted 20 seconds, most of which I spent shaking (because I was terrified) in a doorway. About halfway through, it got worse. Apparently it was centered about 75km down beneath the Marlborough Sounds and measured 5.9 on the Richter Scale. It was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin though!
It's scary, an earthquake. I hate them. I remained pretty calm today, though afterwards I shoved a whole piece of toast in my mouth at once. That's how bad my nerves were. After school when I was in the kitchen where I was when it hit, I felt scared again. I'll never forget this morning. I think I heard it coming before it hit, but I'm not sure. I do remember standing at the bench [Kiwi-speak for kitchen counter], looking all around me, and wondering when I should move into a doorway.
I hope and pray  that the predicted 'big one' never hits New Zealand, especially while I'm here!

Hanging on the wall of my apartment, beside my undergraduate degree, is a fading printout of the earthquake report. Not that I need a reminder -- I've never forgotten that morning. From what I can recall, there was no significant damage from that quake--things fell off the shelves in some shops, but that was about it.  My friends who were already in cars or buses on the way to school didn't feel it. I don't remember being as terrified as my diary said I was. I do remember hearing it, and thinking it was an awfully big truck driving up the street to make that rumbling noise. I remember the toast too.

I did a search on GeoNet to try to find "my earthquake" and there it was, listed as the Cape Jackson earthquake (ID 136357).  The magnitude and depth in the records have both been upgraded since the original report: it was magnitude 6.449 at a depth of 87.08km.

1995 was a big year for earthquakes in New Zealand--not for big quakes, necessarily, but lots of little ones which I'm guessing were related to the eruption of Mount Ruapehu in October of that year (after I was already back in Canada).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Geology photo of the day - Friday

For the final day of geology-photo-of-the-day week (this has been a fun week Evelyn, and I may start posting photos more regularly too!) I'll leave you with this photo from White Island, in New Zealand. My first exposure to this island was in December 1994, when I spent Christmas holidays with my host family at their bach in the Bay of Plenty. Back then, it was just a fascinating, steaming island on the horizon.

In September of this year, I spent a few days with the same host family at the home they built in the Bay of Plenty, and I decided to treat myself to a day trip out to White Island. It was well worth it--besides beautiful weather and orcas on the way to the island, it was really cool to be on/in a volcano!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Geology photo of the day - Thursday

Today's photo of the day (see the beginning of the meme) is from the Bolivian Altiplano. This is the Puchuni Valley, near Estancia Palluma. We were there to map some Cenozoic beds, but I believe these ones are Jurassic (or older).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Picture of the Day

Since this whole meme was sponsored by Evelyn Mervine, and she posted a photo of coral today, I was inspired to post a photo of modern carbonates. This one is from the Great Barrier Reef. If I was a carbonate sedimentologist, I would probably spend more time than necessary studying modern analogs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Geology Photo

As part of the geology-photo-a-day week, here's my photo for today. This was taken en route to doing some field work in late August 2010. It is of the Cardium Formation (one of Alberta's most prolific reservoir formations) at the spectacular Ram Falls in the foothills of west-central Alberta.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Geology Photos

Evelyn at Georneys invited us to join her this week in posting a geology photo a day. It's a busy week for me, trying to finish the final chapter of my thesis before I settle in for some thorough editing. I can't promise that I'll get around to finishing the blog posts I have in the works, but a photo-a-day seems manageable, especially since sifting through them to find especially cool ones makes for a nice break.

Today's photo is from my visit to Australia in September. It's from the top of a red sand dune, between Lake Amadeus and Mount Connor, in the Northern Territory. I forgot to take a close-up photo of the sand, but it was hot and fine-grained and felt silky smooth on my bare feet.

The pinkish haze on the horizon is the smoke from the bush fires that were a dominant character during my time in the Northern Territory.

It's kind of cheating on the photo-a-day theme, but here's another photo, showing a different dune in the background, giving a sense of how big these things actually are.  In fact, many of the viewing areas at Uluru and Kata Tjuta are on top of dunes.

If you fly to Alice Springs from Sydney, as I did, you fly over the Simpson Desert, which is a "sea" of dunes.