Saturday, March 31, 2012

Out in the field - Christchurch

Christchurch cityscape

On Thursday i traveled down to Christchurch to help one of our Scientists Lara put out some new seismic test sites in Canterbury,  as she was the 'boss' of the trip i took on the role of navigator and hole digger!

We put out three test sites in total, they will stay in place for a month and then we come back and pack them up. Back at GeoNet HQ the team then look at the all of the data the sites collected, if  they test well (the signals are clear with no noise eg. farm activity) we will potentially build permanent stations there to help us better locate the earthquakes in the Canterbury area. 

All three sites were in the Rakaia district and all on dairy farms so we saw lots of cows (our poor rental ute was a bit messy too!)  The first  test site was in a nice dry grass paddock - so digging the hole for the sensor was 'fun'. It takes about 45min to put out a test site, as long as everything goes to plan - with this site we had a slight issue with the case that houses the data-logger above ground - being good kiwis however, it was nothing that we couldn't fix with a bit of duct-tape!

Rakaia 1
Rakaia 2

We have to dig a small hole at each test site to house to seismometer. The second site  had the added bonus of stony soil - even more fun for digging!  The photo below shows the finished product with the equipment wrapped up in a tarp to protect from the weather, and the electric fence to keep the nosy cows out.

 The photo below is of the final site of the day, although it looks like she is in the middle of cake baking, here Lara is mixing up the ready-set concrete to go into the hole. A concrete paver is carefully placed (and leveled) onto the concrete and its on top of this that the seismometer sits.
Rakaia 3

 On the second day we traveled out to Mount Pleasant here  as we would like to install a new strong motion sensor. These measure the very strong shaking associated with damaging earthquakes and are located in towns or near faults and are usually installed inside buildings.

We found a suitable area down a small terrace and a homeowner kindly let us have a look at his garage which would be a suitable place (they generally need to be on rock or concrete and have a power source). Although there were about eight houses down this particular terrace, one has been demolished and only two are now inhabited since the earthquakes - and the damage is quite obvious as you can see with the shed above.
Stickers on a property

Its strange how you can travel around some parts of Canterbury and even Christchurch and its hard to tell the earthquakes ever happened, and then you can go to certain areas and its very clear!  As we were traveling out to the airport we drove past buildings in various states of demolition, and empty lots where this has already occurred, at the same time there are little signs of hope and resilience - the church below had a cute picture painted on it with 'I'll kiss it better"

A church being demolished in the cbd.


  1. Good to have you here in shakeytown.

    I think you'll find that the church in your photo isn't being demolished -- it's been made safe and the intention is to repair it (there's some lovely woodwork in the roof).

  2. Thanks Roy - good to know its being repaired!