Quakes happen in my city, Wellington, all the time. Little ones. We had one this afternoon, even. We’re shaken, rattled and rolled quite often.
Bigger ones, not so much. The last one that sent us diving under tables was in December 2011. My wife and I were in a masonry building when it hit – ouch.
But there’s been nothing too damaging since the Second World War, and nothing to compare with the twin quakes of 1848 and 1855. The latter – we now uneasily believe – was probably set up by the former. And at a magnitude of 8.2 it was also the largest quake known in New Zealand
I discovered today that Wellington is being struck by the biggest quake since then. Not that anybody noticed.
It’s magnitude 7, under Kapiti Island – and it’s slow. Very slow. It’ll take a year at least to pass through. It follows other ‘slow slip’ quakes in 2003 and 2008.
Slow quakes. No drama. No fuss. Yes, it might tension the fault lines and provoke the proverbial Big One that will leave Lambton Quay three stories deep in glass and kill 1600 people. We don’t know. But just now, the latest quake is happening very, very quietly.
And when I look at the mess left in Christchurch – when I look at the historical record and hear stories of my own family’s experiences when Napier was flattened in 1931 – I can’t help thinking it’s good that nature is just whispering to us at the moment.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013