Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cook Strait Quakes : Rapid response team - and what happens at GeoNet HQ after a big quake?

Dan packing a seismometer


Following the weekends quake activity we had a rapid response team travel down to Marlborough yesterday, they will install temporary instruments to improve the quality and quantity of data being recorded by our network of instruments.

Loading up the vehicles
After loading up two vehicles the team of four were on the ferry and over to the South Island.
The next morning the team then split up into two, With Dan and Todd traveling to Wairau Valley to install a strong motion site, and then onto Port Underwood to install a weak motion site. 

The other team of Sam and Lara were being tailed by the TV3 Campbell Live cameras for the morning while they installed a combination site (weak and strong motion instruments) south west of Seddon in the hills, and then they were off to White Bluff to install another.

Strong motion instruments record the larger damaging shaking from earthquakes, while the weak-motion sites are more sensitive and record the smaller shakes.

I have pics from the teams below and a map showing where the places they have traveled to are, i also have a more detailed blog on how we set up temporary sites here

First strong motion site installed in a Wairau Valley Garage

Port Underwood site 1/2 way through
Dan and Todd at Port Underwood
Map showing the site locations, Stars are the largest quakes
Planning where they are going
TV3 cameras filming
Seddon combo site all finished


What happens at GeoNet HQ after a big quake?

Fridays 5.7 showing on a screen

We have a lot of different people who all come together after a large quake, each work in different areas of science and at the end it all comes together so we can figure out what is going on under the earth.

To start off with we are usually standing around looking at the screens showing the quake details, for a change on Friday most of us in GeoNet felt this event.

We have a duty officer on duty 24/7, their main role is to check the location of the quakes (after our automated system SeisComP3 )  but
The media are around lots
during a larger event they become 'media stars' with of lots of phone calls from the media and in events like this weekends, the news crews often come into GeoNet to do TV interviews.  This happens right in the middle of GeoNet in our 'media room'. This is also where we have our meetings and our offices are located off (so sometimes we are sneaking around behind the camera trying not to make too much noise)
A meeting of scientists all working on the quakes


The scientists all working on the quake sequence (from GeoNet, GNS Science and other occasionally other agencies like NIWA) have also been meeting here twice a day to discuss who is working on what, and their findings. Each have their own specialty but in a large event they all come together so we can try and figure out what is happening and what possibly might happen in the future.

Communication team working on getting the info out
We also have a 'crisis communications' team, who all come from different parts of GNS Science and GeoNet, and together we make sure that the current science information is getting out to the public, and what other information we need to get out.

So next time there is a large earthquake, you read a news story or see a scientist on the news - you now know what is going on behind the scenes.


  1. What I want to know is who was the poor bugger that went to the bottom of the strait to place a monitor down there . Did they get an allowance for drying there colthes or is it the newbe that has to do it

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  3. Thanks for the very nice details an the process takesplace