In the early hours of Friday morning a lot of people in New Zealand’s North Island, including me, were shaken awake by a significant quake about 100 km off Te Araroa, a township on the East Cape – magnitude 7.1, and a depth of 90 km, which is why it was so widely felt. Quakes … More Will New Zealand’s offshore quakes of 5 March 2021 trigger more?
Eighty nine years ago, on 3 February, my home district of Hawke’s Bay was laid waste by a massive earthquake that destroyed the two main centres, damaged a wide swath of central New Zealand, and killed at least 256. Hundreds more were seriously injured, and thousands hurt in ways that many did not bother to … More Remembering the Quake of ’31
It’s the eighty-seventh anniversary today of New Zealand’s most lethal historical disaster; the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Around 10.47 am on the sunny morning of 3 February, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck the district and threw the towns of Napier and Hastings into ruin. Damage extended from Gisborne in the north to Whanganui in the south-west, … More Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460
New Zealand’s Civil Defence has a new alert system that pushes a really irritating sound out to every compatible phone, no app required, and it can’t be switched off. They tested it on 4 October at 1.32 am and, the other weekend, tested it again. About a third of all cellphones in New Zealand can … More New Zealand’s looming seismic time-bomb
There’s a common belief that the work of historians consists of collecting ‘the facts’ from documents and writing them down. And that’s it. I mean, how hard can it be? I can’t even begin to express the issues I have with such thinking. But let’s start with the obvious one – ‘the facts’. It’s something … More Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand on 14 November – and the sequence of events that followed – has been complex in every sense. The main shock itself was a highly complex rupture of multiple faults that extended northwards and delivered a hefty punch to Wellington, well distant from the putative epicentre. That … More Does the Moon cause earthquakes – or is that a bit looney?
The latest batch of quakes to hammer central New Zealand got me thinking. In past decades the usual face of such events were street-scapes of broken buildings and scattered debris, typified by the ruin that struck Napier and Hastings in 1931. That disaster cued more than half a century of active quake-proofing measures, bolstered by … More The modern face of earthquakes in New Zealand
I took a few photos of central Wellington after the magnitude 7.8 quake that struck near Culverden on Monday. The energy of the quake was directed north, which is why Wellington was far harder hit than Christchurch, although Culverden is mid-way between the two cities. The plus-side, as far as I could see, was that … More A walk through Wellington after the 2016 quake
It’s been a rough week so far in New Zealand. How rough? Well, most of us were woken in the first minutes of Monday by the biggest onshore quake since 2009, and – at a magnitude of 7.5 – the largest to occur near any main population centres since 1931. [Update: figure officially revised to … More Earthquake, tsunami and floods…
Facts are curious things. There are empirical facts that can be independently shown to be true. And there are facts we ‘believe’ to be true, which most of us treat as if empirical. I have to share an experience I had involving the latter. Soon after my book on New Zealand’s engineering achievements hit the … More When ego intrudes into the facts of history