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April 5, 2014

E is for Earthquake


My post today is about earthquakes.

The earth, although it seems solid, consists of a series of plates, which are a bit like jigsaw puzzle pieces. When the plates collide the layers distort and the stress builds until the crust of the Earth buckles. An earthquake typically occurs along a fault line, which is an existing fracture in the crust of the Earth.

New Zealand straddles the boundary of the Pacific and Australian plates. According to Te Ara, the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand we have earthquakes every day, but most are too small for us to feel them.

On 4 September 2010 our third largest city Christchurch suffered a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Although there was widespread damage, there was no loss of life.

Cathedral Square

This is Cathedral Square in Christchurch, taken before the 2010 quake. The Cathedral was badly damaged, and despite public calls for it to be repaired, it was too big a job.

A second quake occurred on 22 February 2011. This was a quake of 6.3 magnitude. There was major damage to land, buildings and the city infrastructure. Sadly, 185 people lost their lives.

The quakes and the numerous aftershocks have changed the landscape and during recent rain, much of the land flooded due to subsidence.

In February 1931 the Hawkes Bay area and the town of Napier suffered a 7.8 magnitude quake. This quake changed the landscape and the coastal areas were lifted around two meters. Fires burned out of control after the quake, the problem compounded by broken water mains. 256 people lost their lives and 593 suffered serious injuries.

When the township of Napier was rebuilt, the planning committee decided on an Art Deco style because the buildings were cheap to construct and more earthquake resistant. When the first building was being constructed, the planning committee urged the builders to make as much noise as possible in order to bring hope to the people of the town. The Art Deco buildings now bring a lot of tourists to the town.


Although I live in a country that has many earthquakes, I’ve never actually felt one. I’m quite happy to keep it that way!

Have you ever been in an earthquake?


  1. Traveling Cats

    I felt only a few smaller earthquakes. Luckily they were over quickly. It’s been at least twenty years since I last felt one. Touch wood.

    • Shelley Munro

      Even small earthquakes sound scary to me!

  2. Donna

    When I was living in Portland Oregon there was an earthquake centered about an hours drive South in the middle of the night. I’m not sure of the size but I remember just a few older buildings were damaged and no one was hurt. It woke me up because my bed started rocking. It moved almost a foot.
    Now I’m in Minnesota where we don’t get earthquakes. We get tornados but people rarely get killed by tornados.

    • Shelley Munro

      Donna – we get a lot of tornado coverage on our news. I don’t know that I’d like to swap earthquakes for tornadoes!

  3. anna@herding cats & burning soup

    So scary! I’m in a relatively quake quiet area. We’ve had a few very very minor ones that you can barely feel happening. Just a little rumble. Last we had I thought it was just the dog walking up the stairs lol He was a 140 pounder and not light on his feet.

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL – that’s a big dog. Mind you when our puppy starts racing around it’s like an earthquake. :)

  4. Mary Kirkland

    Earthquakes are scary. My brother lives in California and they just had a 5.6 I believe, last week. Then they had dozens of aftershocks.

    I’ve only been in one and Ken and I were in bed and all of the sudden the bed started shaking back and forth. I told Ken to quit it because I thought he was pushing against the wall to make the bed bounce back and forth and when he stood up and the bed was still moving my first thought was poltergeist. Yes, I thought malevolent ghost before earthquake because my mind works in strange ways. lol

    • Shelley Munro

      I heard about the earthquakes on the news.
      That’s funny about the ghost and blaming your hubby.

  5. Maria Zannini

    Earthquakes scare the bejeesus out of me. I’ve weathered floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms. I’d much rather try my luck with any of them over an earthquake.

    I hope your luck holds out!

    • Shelley Munro

      Me, too, Maria. Watching the TV coverage of the quakes is bad enough.

  6. Kriss @ Cabin Goddess

    I live in Alaska and we don’t have the normal earthquakes of CA. They tend to be much more destructive. A 4.0 can cause as much damage as a 6.0 in CA. I was thrown from the top of my ladder/staircase in my cabin and ended up cracking my collarbone and had a head injury during a 5.0, it was scary as hell. Our cabin is permanently damaged and leans to one side because of it. We have had horrible ones 14 years ago and that demolished roads and trapped people. People don’t think of Alaska as a place that this would happen but we still have the most active volcano chain in the US. Scary stuff!

    • Shelley Munro

      Yes, I understand the quakes can get very bad in your part of the world. Yikes! Getting tossed out of bed doesn’t sound very nice at all. I hope you don’t have to live through another quake!!

  7. T.F. Walsh

    Earthquakes are very scary and NZ has been having their fair share lately…

    • Shelley Munro

      They certainly have, Tania. I often think the aftershocks are just as bad as the original quake.

  8. Nas

    Scary. We do have some small tremors but nothing big so far…touchwood.

    • Shelley Munro

      Nas, I’m touching wood with you!

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