Quake: 7.8 Magnitude, South Island, New Zealand

A quake that large is a monster. It looks like it is near the top of the South Island, but that just puts it across the strait from Wellington…


I hope all the Kiwis down under and all the folks on islands across the Indian and Pacific oceans come through this OK. It has the potential to make tsunami waves. Being on land, one hopes it doesn’t… but anyone living along the shores of those waters needs to do a tsunami check / watch before going to the shore.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to Quake: 7.8 Magnitude, South Island, New Zealand

  1. Kevin Lohse says:

    Strait, not straight. Lets hope a miracle has happened and no one is hurt.

    [Reply: Fixed it, thanks. The perils of typing a warp speed on a hot topic… -E.M.Smith]

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    A big quake — but doesn’t appear it will be a major disaster. Unless it is your house that’s damaged.

    Got a message (below) from a friend in Wellington but she is on a hill, so not going to be involved with the waves. She got the day off work, though. Christchurch friends have not reported, yet.

    My calm, collected, and sleepy response to the first big one: 12am falling asleep in bed. Light shake. Oh earthquake…*unlocks iPad to view app*. 10 sec later: hmm I’ll get up. 10 sec later: >crashcrash bang CREAK< more things fall down as I slip past the bookcases. 5 sec later: get under table. Heart pounding, things falling off shelves and out of cupboards, and all I can think of is I should stock up on more water. 30+ sec later it's done but I'm still under the table. 5 mins later: still under the table Facebooking.

  3. Bulaman says:

    The rest of my family are horrified that I slept through it. Couple of hundred miles away from here. Daughter in Christchurch is a bit freaked out and other family in Wellington are not sleeping! 2 dead so far in the Hanmer-Kaikoura area. Good friend is the roading engineer for the district so he will be a busy boy..

  4. Sandy McClintock says:

    [Reply: Fixed it, thanks. The perils of typing a warp speed on a hot topic… -E.M.Smith]
    In the past I suspected you used Voice Recognition ??

  5. tom0mason says:

    New Zealand is still suffering many after-shocks in the 4 to 5.2 range.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    No, no voice rec., though the Tablet claims to have it. Just that “inside” I’m more phonetic and sometimes multilingual and symbolic. Pi, for example, is always the symbol ( Greek letter) and gets translated “for display”. Another example, “donc” a great French word, roughly “therefor it is”, and a dozen more edgy… scrody (long o) and scrot (screen shot, after the unix command). Then season with a very wide acceptance band on input with heavy ECC (thanks to the blind and deaf years, now thankfully mostly gone) and if you accept trayt as “straight” or “strait” (or even stray or trait or tray) on input for ECC fixing later, it can be easy to accept strayte for output… Oh, and apartment appartemant appartemente …I’ve forgotten which is what language…

    One of my major failings. I can’t spell worth a damn.

    Though, oddly, when programming I can keep a hundred similar variable names straight…

    So I’d be quite happy to say:

    The page was scrody and needed report donc scrotted & subd.

    But that needs translation for outside… which takes time and gets short shrift when in a hurry.

    Basically I think in a beculiar (same as peculiar) polyglot … where many sounds are homophone so many spellings are homonyms…

  7. tom0mason says:

    Its lively out there!
    Mon, 14 Nov (73 earthquakes)
    Mon, 14 Nov 04:06 UTC M 3.1 / 7.8 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 04:05 UTC M 4.7 / 39.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 04:02 UTC M 3.0 / 10.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 04:01 UTC M 3.5 / 58.4 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:58 UTC M 3.2 / 9.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:56 UTC M 2.9 / 45.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:55 UTC M 3.8 / 63.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:54 UTC M 3.6 / 34.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:53 UTC M 2.9 / 13.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:52 UTC M 3.0 / 13.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:51 UTC M 3.1 / 66.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:48 UTC M 3.7 / 6.6 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:47 UTC M 3.5 / 14.8 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:44 UTC M 4.0 / 12.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:43 UTC M 3.4 / 49.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:41 UTC M 3.3 / 5.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:40 UTC M 3.4 / 44.4 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:39 UTC M 4.1 / 18.6 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:36 UTC M 3.8 / 40.6 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:35 UTC M 4.0 / 14 km – NORTHWESTERN IRAN
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:34 UTC M 3.7 / 12 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:33 UTC M 3.8 / 20.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:31 UTC M 3.9 / 5.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:28 UTC M 2.9 / 35.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:27 UTC M 3.7 / 26.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:26 UTC M 3.7 / 17.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:24 UTC M 3.8 / 18.6 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:21 UTC M 3.9 / 24.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:17 UTC M 3.3 / 45.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:15 UTC M 2.9 / 13.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:15 UTC M 3.2 / 36.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:12 UTC M 3.1 / 5.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:10 UTC M 2.8 / 15.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:09 UTC M 3.8 / 19.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:08 UTC M 2.8 / 5.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:07 UTC M 3.5 / 20.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:06 UTC M 3.9 / 26.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:05 UTC M 2.8 / 5.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:03 UTC M 3.7 / 21.4 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 03:02 UTC M 2.9 / 34.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:59 UTC M 3.8 / 39.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:55 UTC M 3.8 / 5.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:53 UTC M 3.4 / 17.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:51 UTC M 4.0 / 94 km – OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:51 UTC M 2.9 / 19.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:50 UTC M 4.1 / 7.8 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:47 UTC M 3.4 / 14.8 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:46 UTC M 3.4 / 93.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:45 UTC M 3.3 / 19.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:43 UTC M 3.7 / 65.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:40 UTC M 2.8 / 25.2 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:37 UTC M 2.9 / 11 km – CENTRAL ITALY
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:37 UTC M 3.7 / 20.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:35 UTC M 3.7 / 7.8 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:34 UTC M 3.7 / 81.9 km – GIRIT ADASI (MEDITERRANEAN SEA)
    Iraklio (Greece) (9 km SE from epicenter)(no details): few seconds of very slight shaking (via EMSC)
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:34 UTC M 3.7 / 22.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:31 UTC M 3.9 / 5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:29 UTC M 3.5 / 23.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:26 UTC M 3.1 / 19.5 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:22 UTC M 3.3 / 13.9 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:21 UTC M 3.2 / 22.3 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:21 UTC M 3.0 / 11.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:18 UTC M 3.1 / 1 km – – 126km NE of Chignik Lake, Alaska
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:16 UTC M 3.9 / 19.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:13 UTC M 3.3 / 40.6 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:12 UTC M 4.0 / 28 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 02:12 UTC M 5.7 / 10 km – Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands
    Mon, 14 Nov 01:30 UTC M 5.3 / 44.8 km -New Zealand
    Wanaka / MMI IV (Light shaking)
    Mon, 14 Nov 01:27 UTC M 4.9 / 24.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 00:54 UTC M 4.7 / 34.1 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 00:42 UTC M 6.1 / 5 km – Sulu Sea
    Mon, 14 Nov 00:35 UTC M 4.7 / 9.7 km – New Zealand
    Mon, 14 Nov 00:33 UTC M 5.7 / 15.5 km -New Zealand

    Sunday 13 November 2016 Sun, 13 Nov (94 earthquakes)

  8. Larry Ledwick says:

    Hmmm from twitter:
    Fox News ‏@FoxNews 41s42 seconds ago
    Strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake hits northwestern Argentina

    That old Super Moon is doing its gravitational thing it appears.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Yup. Full moon or new moon at closest approach tends to set off marginally locked faults.

    Which reminds me, my stored water needs replacing… it’s likely green in the barrels now… And my stored food is way down… tend to eat in when I run out of something, then replace it a year or three later…

  10. philjourdan says:

    Picture at Fox shows 3 cows stranded on a Mesa after the ground around them sank. Any quake that can do that is a nasty one.

  11. Rob R says:

    Have a look at the following: https://www.geonet.org.nz/quakes/felt/strong

    Like in California we really do know our earthquakes down here in NZ. This most recent one was a big one, even for us. Luckily it hit most strongly in largely rural areas. Probably in the top 10 since European colonisation about 180 years or so ago.

    In our house on the other side of the South Island we all got out of bed as it hit, just after midnight, ready to jump under shelter (tables, door frames). No damage at our place but would have been if it was just a bit bigger.

    Expecting one of around magnitude 8 to 8.5 when the Alpine Fault lets go, likely within the next 50 years or so. That will be closer to home and will really rattle our cages. Its already overdue, with an average return period of around 300 to 350 years. Last event dated around 1710 and that was only a partial rupture. Even geologists (like me) are somewhat worried about this.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rob R:

    A guy connected to rescue (somehow… I forgot…) looked at where people were killed and where they survived post quake. His results were disturbing.

    Those folks who “got under something” usually got squashed when the ‘something’ collapsed.

    Those who got next to something survived in the ‘wedge’ of open space next to the collapsed thing. So get next to your desk, and when it collapses there will be a 9 to 12 inch or so (depending on your desk thickness when squashed) empty space for a ways to the side (until the roof or ‘whatever’ sags down to the floor). THAT is the place survivors are found. NEXT TO beds. NEXT TO desk. NEXT TO tables… not under them…

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Per RT they have been rescued.

  14. Rob R says:


    Onto that already. In the past I have argued the point of getting next to something strong with our local Civil Defence boss. He had not heard of it. His view was stubborn and would not change or even consider it until the “consensus opinion” altered. Shades of “consensus climate science”. Getting under something heavy but not strong is not a good idea. At least with a door frame you know its well braced, and if the entire wall falls it will likely topple over sideways, leaving you standing in or next to the space it vacated.

  15. Regis Llanfar says:

    …or cut you in half…learned in Ca decades ago that you get next to things, not under. Door frames are bad – it’s the one part of the wall that doesn’t have support all the way down so tends to just drop.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    Folks also forget the door… In the Loma Prieta quake (about a 7…) one of our lot stood in a doorway in a highrise… the sway of the building swang the door and whacked him with it. He was busy hanging on to the frame so as not to fall down and didn’t catch it in time…

    I was happy just standing. In fact, I hollered “Woo Hoo! Surfin’ the P Wave!” then looked up. We had suspended 8 foot long fluorescent light fixtures suspended on “piano wire”. They were swinging like crazy. So I decided to “get under my desk” (on hands and knees) which was really a thick wooden work surface with “Herman Miller” like partitions making a nice L of support and with a short metal file cabinet tucked under the ends that would catch it should if fall. Great idea? Not so much…

    Turns out when you put 200 lbs of pendulum above a small hinge and then put 3 axis movement into the support, the hinge takes a lot of motion. I sprained a wrist from the fast slab floor motions with a body not moved by anything by force transmitted through the wrist…

    Who did fine?

    1) The guy who in 10 seconds had bolted out the front door (about 50 feet from his desk) and rode it out on the lawn. He was “out and gone” before the S wave got there. ( P or compression waves arrive first, S or sideways waves come second. Depending on how far you are from the epicenter, you can have a long time before the worst gets there…)

    2) Folks who just sat in their chair (most of them on rollers so disconnected from both S and P wave forces in part).

    3) Small folks on hands and knees, or better, sitting down. Had things fallen, I would expect that laying down next to a long support structure would be best, but our building didn’t fall.

    4) Computers and racks on wheels. They rolled back and forth a bit, but no problem. Some managed to ‘catch’ in or on something (like a popped floor tile) and tip into nearby gear, but just standing those back up again was all it took.

    Who had “minor injuries”?

    1) Me, hands and knees under desk resulted in a sprained wrist. I was fine standing and would have had an easy ride just sitting in my chair. NO light fixtures fell. Piano wire is strong and flexible enough to avoid most of the inertial forces.

    2) V.P. in a doorway. He had a ‘rolling AV cart’ toss a TV at him (top of a 9 story building the sway was pretty strong…) and rand to the doorway… when the S wave hit, the door bopped him one. Had a nice band-aid on his face for a while…

    Where were their casualties?

    Almost all of them were on double stack freeways when the top deck fell in crushing their cars. Those that survived were in the ‘wedge’ next to the support beam (crossways pillar to pillar) under the upper deck. Sure, the car was squashed down to the height of the beam ( a few feet) but many folks survived there.

    Buildings with an apartment above and parking below. The thin pillars with no shear wall tended to buckle. Folks in the garage “had issues” while folks in the apartments tended to do OK… unless a fire started.


    Being under stuff was a bad idea. Being outside or top floor works well (though in high rise San Francisco you must watch out for falling shards of window glass… so I don’t work in San Francisco if I can avoid it, or any high-rise, really). Tops of high rise buildings amplify the waves into huge swings; loose objects become projectiles… like TVs on carts or swinging doors.

    You have TIME. In most cases of single story structures, it’s very quick and easy to exit. (Highrise not so much). A great quake can go on for MINUTES and you can often exit in seconds. The P wave can arrive 20 to 30 seconds before the S wave. I could have leisurely walked out (wobbly stumble out?) and sat on the lawn before the worst of it hit. (We were about 20 miles from the epicenter, folks in places like Oakland and San Francisco had even longer lags between the two).

    At home, we lost a wine glass off the mantle. That was IT. Stick built (wood stud and rafter) buildings are much more quake proof than others. The major losses were within 9 miles of the epicenter and those were older homes not bolted to the foundation that just slid off. Folks were not hurt (mostly) and they often could just be slid back on. Homes, like me, bolted to the foundation had little issues. A Great Quake at home and I’m just going to ride it out on the couch or bed if I can’t get to the front door and gone fast enough. If things start to go bad, I’ll roll off into the ‘wedge’ space next to it. IMHO, given the 7.2 originally reported (now called a 6.9) it would take at least an 8.x inside 20 miles of me to ‘be a problem’ at home. (Yet folks in Oakland and S.F. that were 70 miles away from a nominal 6.9 died… when in places subject to collapse and crush).

    Single story wood frame structures can ride out a LOT of shake. Wood flexes and gives. (Don’t be near the brick fireplace chimney… some folks got hurt when those crashed through the roof).

    Part of what gets me P.O.d at the current trend in Silicon Valley is that they now approve lots of 3 and 4 story “European Style” apartment blocks. That’s exactly the kind of thing that “has problems” compared to our historic 1 or 2 story suburban homes. (Gee, thank’s Local Agenda 21 pushing for that… it’s going to kill people in the 8.x coming on either the San Andreas or the Hayward / Calaveras complex.) One can only hope they will in fact be ‘earthquake poof’…

    (“But hope is not a strategy.” -E.M.Smith)…

    BTW, I once rode out a 5.8 on top of the epicenter. I was in my car in an Arco parking lot trying to grab a short nap (dead of night, long drive). I woke up thinking someone was shaking the car… looked around, trucks wobble hopping up and down, BIG sign swaying A Lot, etc. The overpass fell a foot or two on one end (luckily I was past it on the ‘home’ side by then). I got out of the car5 (yes it lasted that long) to do the look-see… It was much stronger shaking outside the car. Essentially the suspension isolates you from the quake in part. I’d be happy sitting in my car IN THE OPEN in just about any sized quake. I was driving during another quake and didn’t even notice it. The motion being felt as like a gust of wind, so I just thought it was gusting a bit outside.. A couple of folks pulled over but I didn’t know it was a quake until I got home. 5.2? Something like that.

    So my basic strategy now is simple:

    If you can, get out fast. If you can’t, sit it out in chair or bed. IFF it gets very bad and it looks like a crash is coming, roll into a wedge space and LAY there, no hands and knees… Avoid high rises (top floors especially and outside near glass fall space) and avoid masonry buildings. Live in a single story (2 at most) wood construction home. Do Not have a ‘building over carport’. Those fall down very easy. Avoid lower deck of double deck freeways, and park in open areas.

    Sort form: Open space, wood frame, and car outdoors. Avoid most things Center City style.

    Oh, it IS really fun to face into the P wave and surf it ;-)

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    A couple lessons from Mexico city, many of the people killed were people who exited the building as the strong shaking started and then got buried under rubble as the building facades and store front signs came down. If you exit a building get well clear quickly of that falling debris danger zone.

    Building collapse also is influenced by the structural dynamics of the buildings and the frequency of the shaking. In the Mexico quake the natural resonant frequency of the buildings near 10 stories happened to match the primary frequency of the S wave shaking. Those buildings collapsed while shorter and taller buildings nearby survived.

    One special case was where a building subject to high motion (near resonant frequency height) was located very close to a taller building. The shorter building motion caused it to pound on the wall of the taller slower moving building and break down the walls structural strength sometimes bringing down middle stories of the taller building.

    Buildings with floors which were weak in shear (ie not good at resisting side to side motion), such as house over garage homes in San Francisco would often collapse the weak shear layer while other floors would survive. Especially if the floors above were relatively heavy and had lots of inertia.

    Oddly shaped buildings (ie L shaped floor plans or building designs which had radical difference in stiffness in places like office blocks, connected weak glass causeways ) will tear the weak portions apart as the different portions move out of sync with each other.

    Large strong concrete pillars which lack adequate wrapping of reinforcement material can explode near the base as the concrete shatters from the shearing motions and is unconstrained, so strong concrete pillars and beams may not be a good place to be. In some cases they had “punch through” failure where the floor separated from the pillar and like a stack of cards collapsed to the ground leaving the pillars standing with small top hats of flooring around them at each floor level.

    It is pretty much a game of luck as you cannot really predict all those variables, but if the P – S wave timing is large you have a few seconds to make decisions based your local environment.

    Unconstrained book cases, TV’s and shelving can be a real hazard in the home as they fall down.
    As noted above on the floor beside a nice strong sofa has a lot to recommend itself.

  18. @E.M. Brings back memories for me not of my time in CA, but in the Philippines in the mid 70’s. I used to go out to the base runway with my dad and watch him do touch&go’s in an F-105. Sitting there in a booth just off the runway eating breakfast cookies (grape nut flakes, bacon, brown sugar – what’s not to like ;)) – and watching the runway undulate with the passing quakes.

  19. Rob R says:

    In reference to comments above on single story wooden frame buildings, I live in one. In this most recent South Island quake I could see the whole house flexing. Different parts of the house going in different directions but no damage done.

    In the Christchurch earthquakes a few years ago, where around 130 people died, about the only casualties in these types of wooden frame houses tended to be from old brick chimneys toppling over. Since then almost all of the brick chimneys that didnt fall over have been removed.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    F105? My God man your Dad had stones! I’d rather ride a bucking bull than one of those stove pipe rockets with “control” (really “over response”) surfaces!

    Eating breakfast cookies watching Dad cheat death with exceptional skill? Yeah, what’s not to like! :-)

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    “it was the only U.S. aircraft to have been removed from combat due to high loss rates”

  22. Regis Llanfar says:

    My dad doesn’t say much about his time in Vietnam. He avoided one dog fight to stay with his wing man when a MiG started to engage by just going supersonic. He got to fly much longer than most pilots as he survived an emergency due to quick thinking – had a flame out over the Chesapeake bay in a trainer with only 2 seconds to eject. Spent a couple of hours in mid-winter water. But after his last few years consigned to flying a desk, he retired to become a data architect beltway bandit.

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