It has been frightening, on several levels, not least that we live in the Wellington region which is itself astride a very active fault system.
Needless to say it has prompted (certainly well-overdue) reviews of our emergency preparedness - largely theoretical I'm sorry to have to concede. Of course, Desiree has therefore swung into action, and we now are developing a cache of clothing, blankets, cooking & heating supplies, food, water, etc. in an accessible place. All we need now is to know that the emergency will strike while we're at home!
And then I received a lovely email from a cousin in Canada, with a lovely 'update' photo of their family. In it I was asked if there was any connection between the faultlines near us and those which caused the destruction in Christchurch. Which got me thinking: how to explain our position to someone on the other side of the world?
So have a look at these:
New Zealand lies across the margin of two major tectonic plates - the Indo-Australian (to our west) and the Pacific (to our east). The consequence is that the country is riddled by faultlines, in particular the Alpine Fault, which runs along the 'spine' of the South Island, forming the Southern Alps. It then bends and splinters in a number of smaller faults which cross what we call Cook Strait, to re-emerge in the southern North Island as a series faultlines, which stretch north and become the Volcanic Triangle around the central Plateau and Bay of Plenty.
In our part of the North Island, the major faults look like this:
I was reminded that I had mentioned a nearby faultline, which I had shown Erin while she was visiting with us. Again, is it close? Well have a look at this map, and click on the place indicated.
There is nothing heroic about it - we just live with it, and hope that when "the big one" strikes, we'll be OK.
Oh, and we visited Christchurch for a few days last March, and had a lovely time in a lovely city. It is saddening to see the same places we remember with affection now rubble and dust.