Friday, September 2, 2011

Felt Reports: Then & Now

GeoNet collects earthquake data directly from the public via our website where people can answer questions about what they felt during an earthquake. We use this feedback to assist with mapping the distribution of shaking intensity of earthquakes(see here ) and with scenario planning for future earthquakes.

These days its a quick questionarre on our website, however, back in the early 1900s (pre-internet -shock horror) things were slightly different! There was no GeoNet and no network of instruments across New Zealand.

For many years dedicated volunteers completed reports, filling in paper questionnaires and sending them to the observatory in Wellington.  Pre-1930s these, along with newspaper clippings, were used by scientists to calculate where an earthquake was located.  This was difficult in NZ as most people lived by the coast, so not much was known about the effects of earthquakes further inland.
Christchurch 1921

We keep all of these old records here at GeoNet
and they can be quite amusing to read, i have scanned 3 examples of 'felt reports' and one old Press article for you to look at here -->

Christchurch 1921
So next time you feel an earthquake and are (very paitently of course) awaiting the details from GeoNet, think back to the earlier years - they never got to find out how big the earthquakes were! 

Palmerston North 1923


  1. People wouldnt go to the trouble or 'writing' out forms these days... very cool thou :))

  2. I love the letter. Thanks for putting this up.

  3. That's just awesome to see those old reports!