Geology and stuff

Napier is a city on the East coast of New Zealand’s North Island. On 3 February 1931, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake – subsequently known as the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake – struck 15 km away, killing 256 and injuring thousands. Napier was leveled; the ‘Dominion’ newspaper reported ‘Napier as a town has been wiped off the map’.

One consequence of the earthquake was the uplift of land around the coast. Nearby Ahuriri Lagoon was lifted 2.7 metres and became dry land. It’s now the Hawkes Bay airport and farmland and industrial developments. The 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake resulted in an uplift of Kaikoura by 70 cm and its movement to the northeast by nearly one metre.

New Zealand is particularly dominated by its geology. I suppose all earthlings are to a certain extent. Australia is relatively earthquake-free, as we aren’t grinding our way over the top of any major tectonic plate. Nevertheless we have experienced earthquakes of up to a magnitude of 7.2 (Meeberrie, Western Australia, 1941) and the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake (magnitude 5.6) which resulted in the deaths of 13 people.

If, like me, you are a disaster nerd, you will be all over New Zealand’s restless and overactive geology – volcanoes, earthquakes, liquefaction, bubbling hot springs, unpredictable, volatile earthworks. But here’s the thing. Keep reading for long enough, and you will reach a dead end, with the best seismologists eventually admitting, quietly, furtively, in obscure articles, that seismology is definitely, like continents, a work in progress. We humans actually don’t know very much at all about the earth’s quirks, a fact which was validated by the tour guide on my trip to Milford Sound yesterday. The Kaikoura Earthquake, he said, came as a bit of a surprise to the scientific community, as it did not occur on a major tectonic fault line.

Yup, New Zealand sure is dominated by its geology, and as we detoured south and south-west of Queenstown through gorgeous valleys and beside Tolkeinesque lakes on our way to Fjiordland, the tour guide pointed out areas carved out by glaciers 11,000 years ago, explained to us the difference between a fjiord and a sound, and said that just about the only warning you get of an impending earthquake is your dog getting edgy and upset.

A short way of describing Milford Sound is ‘breathtaking’. I took a couple of photos but it was difficult to get decent images and video with the movement of the boat. Besides, as my hotel receptionist said when I returned later that day, Milford Sound’s awesomeness just can’t really be captured. By camera, a phone, or any kind of device.Milford Sound1Milford Sound



~ by margoforte12 on April 5, 2017.

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