Earth’s surface ‘lurches 11ft to the right’ as New Zealand earthquake rips new fault line

September 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Science

(DAILY MAIL)   The earthquake that devastated a city in New Zealand tore open a new 11ft faultine in the Earth’s surface.

The 7.1-magnitude quake which hit Christchurch, the country’s second-largest city, destroyed about 500 buildings and caused an estimated £930million of damage.

But hundreds of lives were saved by tough building rules, it was claimed. Only two injuries were reported.

Enlarge   Taylor Strowger Cracked up: Taylor Strowger, 10, from Darfield explores earthquake damage to Highfield Road, 30km west of Christchurch

Enlarge   Quake Destruction: A man walks over a damaged road in Paiapoi, 13 miles south of Christchurch after the city was hit by an earthquake Saturday

The quake was caused by the continuing collision between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, said Professor Mark Quigley, of Canterbury University.

‘One side of the Earth has lurched to the right … up to 11ft and in some places been thrust up,’ he said. ‘We went and saw two houses that were completely snapped in half by the earthquake.’

The quake cut power across the region, roads were blocked by debris and gas and water supplies were disrupted.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said power was back to 90 per cent of the city and water supply had resumed for all but 15 to 20 per cent of residents.

quakeThis US Geological Survey (USGS) shows on image of a ShakeMap of the South Island of New Zealand on Friday as an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale struck

Enlarge   quake A seismogram made available by Geosciences Australia of the early morning earthquake which hit west of the southern city of Christchurch

Portable toilets had been provided and tanks of fresh water placed around the city. Mr Parker said it would take a long time to fix fully some core services such as water and sewerage. ‘Our first priority is just people,’ he said. ‘That’s our worry.’

The fact that no one was killed was put down to the timing of the quake and strict building codes.

‘New Zealand has very good building codes which mean the buildings are strong compared with, say, Haiti,’ said Professor Martha Savage of Victoria University in the capital Wellington.

‘It’s about the same size quake as Haiti, but the damage is so much less. Though chimneys and some older facades came down, the structures are well built.’

quakeNew Zealand lies along the intersection between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates

quakeThe Pacific plate is gradually being pushed beneath the Australian plate, which caused Friday’s massive earthquake

quake

A walking bridge just about remains over the Avon River in Avonside, Christchurch. A severely damaged chimney stands on Kilmarnock Street

Enlarge   quake Rubble-strewn street: Experts said the low number of injuries in the powerful quake reflected the country’s strict building codes

Enlarge   quake A man on a pushbike (R) photographs a damaged building in New Zealand’s second largest city Christchurch

The Anglican Dean of Christchurch, the Rev Peter Beck, added: ‘Thank God for earthquake strengthening ten years ago.’

Prime Minister John Key said it was a miracle no one was killed. He put that down to the building codes and because the quake happened just before dawn on Saturday.

‘If this had happened five hours earlier or five hours later there would have been absolute carnage in terms of human life,’ he said. Parts of the city look like they’ve been put in the tumble dryer.’

Up to 90 extra police officers had flown in to Christchurch to help and troops were likely to join the recovery effort today. Engineering teams have begun assessing damage to all central areas.

Enlarge   quake Unstable buildings standon Columbo Street: Civil Defence declared a state of emergency and there has been considerable damage across the city and surrounding areas

Enlarge   quake A workman (top-R) uses a hose near a water main as he works near a large hole in a street in New Zealand’s second largest city

Enlarge   quake Rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, water and sewerage systems ‘would be a major cost’ that the government would have to meet

Schools across the region will remain closed for the next two days to allow time to check whether they were safe.

Roger Bates, whose dairy farm at Darfield was close to the quake’s epicentre 19 miles west of Christchurch, said the new faultline had ripped up the surface across his land.‘The whole dairy farm is like the sea now, with real soil waves right across the dairy farm.

‘We don’t have physical holes (but) where the fault goes through it’s been raised a metre or metre and a half.’

New Zealand records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than ten a year do any damage.

New Zealand’s last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island’s Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12ins closer to

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1309194/New-Zealand-earthquake-moves-Earths-surface-11ft-right.html#ixzz0z4ivtUxB

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