Earthquakes 101

Last night I felt my very first earthquake. Although my colleague at work acknowledged that there had been an earthquake, he laughed the size away. For me it was the first one I actually felt. It woke me up in the middle of the night and it took me a while to figure out what was happening. I felt my bed shaking and after realizing I was not in a hostel, and nobody was being intimate in the bottom bunk, I thought of the earthquakes. A bizarre feeling. But this was nothing for Christchurch.

Evidence of the earthquakes that happened a few years ago in Christchurch is still visible throughout the city. After being here for some time now, I’ve finally taken out the time to figure out what happened. My colleagues at work remember telling people they had to boil the water around Christchurch and advising to fill the campervans’ water tanks in Queenstown. Some of them even had destroyed houses.

The biggest earthquake was the one on the 4th of September 2010. I was happily living in Cape Town and honestly didn’t know what was going on. With a magnitude of 7.1 this earthquake was the biggest ever recorded and even cracked open the earth’s surface, breaking up and moving some roads. This quake might have been bigger, but the one on the 22nd of February 2011, an aftershock with a magnitude of 6.3, was the bigger disaster. The epicenter was in Lyttelton, the small harbor 12km out of the city’s center.

quakesAlmost two hundred people were killed by collapsing buildings and falling rocks and debris. Houses on hills fell down because of breaking rock and a lot of the buildings that were already damaged from 2010 could now no longer take it. I guess living in New Zealand is dealing with earthquakes. There is a website that tells you all about the last earthquakes around Christchurch. The earth here is apparently shaking on a daily basis, but only with a magnitude of 2 to 3. I honestly hadn’t felt anything.

The thing to do in case of an earthquake is drop, cover and hold. Make yourself small, hide under a table and hold on to it. At least I know now what it feels like. Guess what? There were many quakes last night. The picture here shows you how big and how deep they were. I guess I must have felt the 4.5M one. It’s still a strange phenomenon.

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