Shaky Wellington

July 22nd, 2013 at 4:02 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police say sink-holes have opened up in the CBD following a severe magnitude 6.5 earthquake that damaged buildings, cut power, trapped people in lifts and injuring at least two.

Inspector Ian Harris, of Police Communications, said there had been sink-holes reported on Featherston St between Johnston and Waring Taylor streets.

The sink-holes were on the road but it was not known how big of how many there were, he said. The road has been closed.

Good that there were no serious injuries, but a reminder of how vulnerable Wellington is to .

I worry how Wellington will fare when an even bigger quake strikes. If the CBD comes down, like in Christchurch, then different parts of the city are effectively cut off from each other, including the hospital. The road links north are also very vulnerable.

Wellington CBD workers are being urged to hold-off heading into work till noon tomorrow to give landlords and engineers time to assess quake-damaged buildings.

Wellington Region Civil Defence Controller, Bruce Pepperell, said people should check with work before heading into the CBD and if they did come in, stay away from quake-damaged facades.

“I am worried about some of the facades. It would only take a little shake to move some of that stuff and it could end in tragedy.”

KiwiRail spokeswoman Sophie Lee said there had been no reports of damage to the tracks this evening. But because much of the assessment was done after dark, the call had been made to do a more thorough check in the morning, she said.

“Given the seriousness of the aftershocks and the fact that (the inspection) is taking a lot of time, we’ve decided to take every precaution.”

No buses were available on such short notice so rail commuters would need to make alternative arrangements, she said.

KiwiRail was hopeful of having at least some services back up and running by midday on Monday.

Rather glad I was out of Wellington for this one. Being on the top floor of an apartment building, we get pretty shaken about in even minor quakes. I’m told the TV fell off the stand, books all came off the shelves, glasses smashed etc.

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39 Responses to “Shaky Wellington”

  1. Cactus Kate (551 comments) says:

    The poor housemate will be working all day to put the books back in alphabetical order. How many you got up there?

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  2. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Twice if they shelve by title first…

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  3. MT_Tinman (3,259 comments) says:

    Glasses smashed is worrying. You’ll have to drink out of the bottle.

    Wellington is obviously shot. Close it down and move it to Palmerston North.

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  4. NK (1,257 comments) says:

    Books? Who has books these days. Is the Kindle okay?

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  5. Keeping Stock (10,439 comments) says:

    You guys realise of course that these quakes are a right-wing conspiracy ordered by Key and Joyce and executed from afar by DPF to halt Labour’s march forward in the polls and to get Kim Dotcom off the front page; why else would DPF be travel blogging?

    Seriously though, that was one heck of a shake; on a par for me with the intensity of the Boxing Day 2010 one in Christchurch, which was at that time the most attention-getting earthquake I had ever felt. All the best to everyone closer to the epicentre than me.

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  6. tvb (4,516 comments) says:

    If Wellington gets flattened then we would have the chance to have the capital in a much better place. It is at the end of the North Island. Its transport links are dodgy and of course there is a risk of huge damage.

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  7. Pete George (23,687 comments) says:

    I hope things have settled down by the weekend, visiting, maybe…

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  8. Reid (16,634 comments) says:

    Sadly if Wgtn does get hit the Cook Strait cable goes down which means Akld doesn’t get any power. Won’t that be a shame. Jafas might have to burn their expensive houses down just to keep warm.

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  9. wreck1080 (3,970 comments) says:

    A little earthquake did to the NZ dollar what no one else could.

    I expect Auckland house price inflation to increase as refugees head to Auckland.

    It does make you wonder if earthquakes are somehow linked — I just don’t a time with so many earthquakes although I suppose a random distribution will still produce clusters.

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  10. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Does anyone know anything about the structure of Te Papa. I know its not as important as lives, but it has always confused me why we would put our most valuable historical treasures on the water front of a quake prone and tsunami prone city. Even the land it is built on is reclaimed.

    Just how safe are all the treasures in the basement of that building?

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  11. jims_whare (404 comments) says:

    Just hope that it’s not a precurser quake like the Sept quake was for Christchurch – I dunno if the country could afford Wellington to fall over,

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  12. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    Nice quick drive in this morning – SH2 didn’t even slow down around Petone interchange or the bottom of the gorge. :D

    Civil Defense should warn all the civil servants to stay home every day…

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  13. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    Wreck – I think God is punishing us for approving gay marriage… :razz:

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  14. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    RRM, there is no doubt these events are the direct result of the Sodomite Dammed based in Welly. :)

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  15. hj (7,067 comments) says:

    Apocalypse Wellington – ground zero for earthquake reinsurance
    http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=53575

    Before the earthquake in Christchurch the Government had a $1 Billion excess $5 Billion reinsurance contract for earthquake damage – which automatically reset following a major event – we claimed $10 Billion on this policy.

    We now have a $1 Billion excess $1.5 Billion EQC reinsurance contract in place – for the nation. I think that the rough figures for premiums were $500 million a year for the $5 Billion + facility and $250 million for what we have now.

    For earthquake damage NZ Inc. is – by necessity – self-insuring. Like the Japanese.

    And we need to remember this happened last time we had a massively damaging quake – in Napier in 1931. EQC 1.0 died on February 22 2011. EQC 2.0 is yet to be created.

    So how does this work out for Wellington?

    Sources tell me that insurance chiefs from the biggest reinsurers in the world are now pricing Wellington as “ground Zero for earthquake reinsurance risk” in the world. Not the Asia-Pacific. Not the ring of fire. The world.

    And as a result practically speaking earthquake reinsurance cover is not practically available for commercial property in Wellington.
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1303/S00053/apocalypse-wellington-500-words.htm

    Foreshocks Announce Future Earthquakes on Some Faults
    http://www.livescience.com/28134-earthquake-slow-slip-foreshocks-found.html

    The next earthquake centred on the Alpine Fault should begin in South Westland and will probably have a magnitude of 8+.

    It will be felt throughout the South Island and as far away as Sydney.
    ..
    The historical patterns of earthquakes and current research on the alpine fault indicate that it is likely to rupture very soon.

    The magnitude of the earthquake

    With an expected magnitude of 8+ this will be considered a “great earthquake” not simply a strong one. The force will result in a horizontal earth shift of up to 8 metres, and a vertical displacement of 4 metres. The effects will be worst in West Otago, diminishing eastward.
    ..
    Expect many bridges to fail in West Otago areas as there is no bridge design that performs well during a fault rupture. Many rivers and streams will become impassable. Roads will suffer serious damage, some areas will be become isolated immediately. Transalpine routes and roads in mountainous areas will be impassable for weeks, therefore, tourists and other travellers are likely to be stranded. Any ski-fields that were operating will pose severe rescue difficulties.

    Kawarau Gorge, Kingston, Haast Pass and the Glenorchy routes may be cut in many places, mostly by landslides and dropouts. Large sections of SH8 (Haast Highway) may be out for up to a year.

    Even with concentrated repair resources, susceptible major highways can still be out for over a month with multiple blockages.
    ….
    Electricity supply

    Damage to hydro electrical generation plants and transmission lines will result in an immediate shutdown of South Island power generation and widespread disruption of reticulation. Electricity supply is likely to be unavailable for many weeks or even months in some remote areas.

    The Clyde Dam has been built to very high specifications and it is unlikely it would suffer catastrophic damage.

    Damage to buildings and infrastructure will cause uncontrollable fires.

    The nature and location of the earthquake indicate that a relatively small number of people will be killed. However, a large number of people will suffer disabling injuries.

    Communications and public services

    All communication systems including land and cell-phones may be down in many parts of West Otago. Satellite based telephone systems will initially be the main means of communication. Queenstown could become completely isolated if the airport is damaged.

    Water, sewerage, energy, transport, health, and social services may be disrupted for weeks.

    Cessation of most commercial activity may occur in many parts of the South Island, however, many local economies will be maintained solely by recovery activities. As in any disaster some people may suffer terribly, and others will profit.

    People trapped on roads and tracks, or in accommodation will need to be looked after where they are for days due to road blockages, airport damage, and limited means of transportation.

    Agricultural production will be disrupted, and dairy herds may be unable to be milked in some areas due to electricity outage.
    http://www.orc.govt.nz/Information-and-Services/Natural-Hazards/Great-Alpine-Fault-Earthquake/

    Our political wonks have only one plan “growth” in population, growth in infrastructure.. they have no interest in concepts of sustainability and resilience.

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  16. mikenmild (11,776 comments) says:

    Judith
    Te Papa is probably one of the safest building. There were months of work put in pounding the footings before the foundations were built and it had the very latest base isolaters installed. Our treasures should be safe.

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  17. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    @mikey,

    It is a relief to know that the corrugated-iron clad HQ Holden and the plastic figurines of the All Blacks are safe.

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  18. mikenmild (11,776 comments) says:

    Yes, and the rest of the stuff- Phar Lap’s bones, Captain Cook’s cannons and all my other favourite things.

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  19. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    True. I must check to see if they also have any bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.

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  20. nasska (11,813 comments) says:

    bhudson

    Not only that but we have many university graduates who have majored in things Maori. They should be able to knock up a museum full of artefacts in no time at all.

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  21. mikenmild (11,776 comments) says:

    The marae in Te Papa looks like it didn’t take long to make…
    http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/ConferencesAndFunctions/Spaces/Pages/TeMarae.aspx

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  22. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Sadly if Wgtn does get hit the Cook Strait cable goes down which means Akld doesn’t get any power

    I’m sure that’s pretty unlikely, but I recall hearing that the North Island was self-sufficient, if all of its power stations were fully fired up. Can anyone verify?

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  23. Steve Wrathall (285 comments) says:

    All the more reason Transmission Gully is needed. Ridiculous that our capital is only accessible by a couple of 2-lane goat tracks.

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  24. mikenmild (11,776 comments) says:

    For the billion dollar cost of Transmission Gully we could acquire some alternative capabilities that would actually be of some use in an earthquake.

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  25. 2boyz (266 comments) says:

    ‘tvb, Much better to have it in an area full of volcanos, yeah right. Most Wellington based NZer’s are actually waiting for the day some member of Parliament suggests they move it all to Auckland as after all it is the centre of our known Universe. A million odd residents verses the rest of the meek 3 plus million that have chosen to live outside Auckland’s city boundaries (shame of us) and to think it would probably only cost a few billion to sort out.

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  26. Pete George (23,687 comments) says:

    They had it right in the early days when Dunedin was the thriving centre of New Zealand. The volcanoes here have been inactive for yonks, and it’s on of the least active seismc areas in the country.

    But instead the city has been gutted by Government and by businesses and organisations who have moved to one of the most precarious locations in the country. And what they didn’t move there they centralised in Christchurch, and continue to do so – NZ Post being the latest.

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  27. gump (1,662 comments) says:

    @2boyz

    The population of Auckland is over 1.4 million.

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  28. 2boyz (266 comments) says:

    gump, I stand corrected at ‘over 1.4′ yeah that adjustment from one million odd to 1.4 means lets pack it up now and move it now :)

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  29. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    All the more reason Transmission Gully is needed. Ridiculous that our capital is only accessible by a couple of 2-lane goat tracks.

    :neutral: 2-lane goat tracks… Really?

    Transmission gully will not add an additional route into the city, all access will still be via SH1 or SH2.

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  30. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I know nothing about the science involved, so excuse my ignorance, but is it possible these current events could set off the Alpine fault line? (just wondering if I need to stock up on chocolate and Merlot)

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  31. Fletch (6,496 comments) says:

    It was felt all the way up in South Auckland, but no one in the media has mentioned that seemingly. I know of people who had alarms go off, lights swinging, water in the swimming pool washing side to side.

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  32. Zebulon (124 comments) says:

    “Reassuring” to note that we can’t rely on government related bodies to tell us the truth abut earthquake risk: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/6148716/EQC-withheld-dangerous-deadly-info

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  33. Paulus (2,669 comments) says:

    Unlike Christchurch the area of real liquefaction is only the Hutt Valley and Basin Reserve (a shipping basin remember).
    The airport land rose out of the 1860? earthquake, and in a big one would do the same.
    Christchurch was never strengthened like Wellington Central – ask Sir Michael Fowler, in the 1980’s.
    They even had raffle tickets for $10 each, and he would stop you in the city and “Request” you buy a ticket (again).
    He oversaw considerable structural and building changes and did a great job in this area. The Council did enormous number of inspections and listed many, many earthquake prone buildings. I had a copy of that list once.
    Christchurch never took any notice of Earthquake reports, as it could never happen to them, only nasty Wellington.
    Successive Mayors, and Councillors (who probably never saw the reports), decided to ignore these (ex DSIR and many others).
    Building in liquefaction areas in East Christchurch represented low socio accommodation, State and Council houses which equalled rates and left wing votes.

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    I think the way we manage earthquake hazard could be the single biggest issue facing NZ at present, if that earthquake had have been 30km closer to Wellington we would be looking at a very different situation right now.

    We couldn’t afford another Christchurch at present, there has been plenty of moaning about the new building standards but I think this event makes it pretty clear that it is just something we have to do.

    This sort of activity could occur just about anywhere in the country at any time, kinda freaky when you think about it!

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  35. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    Shunda – You say that like the quake indicates something is wrong that needs to be fixed…

    :arrow: 115 out of 183 Chch deaths were in one 1980s low-rise multistorey building with design flaws. If that building had been built to even the expectations of the day the Chch quake would have been far less of a tragedy.

    :arrow: Chch quake was the first full-scale live test of some new steel design ideas developed after Northridge 1994 quake. And it was a pretty successful test – 2x tall new k-frame buildings in CHCH performed better than the theory predicted, despite experiencing ground acceleration more than 2x the design code level (i.e. a once in 500 years sized earthquake.)

    :arrow: Many previous-generation tall multi-storey frames stood up and protected their occupants with varying degrees of cosmetic and structural damage.

    :arrow: a large number of rotten old brick shit heaps that should have been demolished years ago, were semi shaken to bits.

    :arrow: Shortly before the Chch quake, a moderately stronger one in Port-au-Prince Haiti killed 1 in 8 of that city’s residents.

    People keep talking about Chch earthquake like it has showed up problems, brought serious deficiency to light and highlighted all sorts of things that need to be fixed. I think it shows just how well the system we have works. The only thing that appears to be broken is the level of insurance cover…??

    Meanwhile, Wgtn City Council has been chasing up owners of earthquake buildings about strengthening or demolishing them for years, far more aggressively than for instance Chch has been. And OH! How property owners hated them for it.

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  36. Left Right and Centre (2,997 comments) says:

    RRM 3:05 pm 115….. in one building. In one building. In*one* building…

    115…

    Still hard to believe that actually happened in Christchurch…. incredible… and still incredibly sad….

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  37. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    People keep talking about Chch earthquake like it has showed up problems, brought serious deficiency to light and highlighted all sorts of things that need to be fixed. I think it shows just how well the system we have works.

    Oh, ok then, nothing to worry about, it’s not as if another Christchurch could bankrupt the country.

    :roll:

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  38. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    LRC
    Yes 115 in one building…. horrific alright..The council has just bought the land..They are going to make it a green space with some kind of memorial on it so people can still go there to mourn and remember..There is a CTV families trust..They distributed 40,000 before Christmas last year. They are still raising money to help the surviving families , I think particularly the children with their education etc.
    Soon after this quake , there was some big announcement re a committee to decide re the memorial..It did not go down well here that the chair of the committee was from WGTN..Also there was talk of huge amounts of money being spent on the memorial..This wasn’t liked either..CHCH people are hard working , careful , conservative..They did not want huge amounts of money spent on it..As you say , the whole thing is so sad ..Many of us who used to watch CTV could not believe so many of the presenters were gone..
    What ever happened to the fake engineer.? It hardly bears thinking about that he was involved in a lot of buildings in Australia too.

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  39. V (750 comments) says:

    Out of interest how much did the council pay for the land of the CTV site?
    One would have thought the owners would have let it go discounted, after all nobody would have wanted to rebuild on a memorial site.

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