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).

No comments:

Post a Comment