Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eketahuna Earthquake Response

This week I got to go back to my old hometown, and visit my old school! 

Wednesday morning I traveled up to Eketahuna, the location of this weeks M6.2 earthquake, with Lara and Sam to install three temporary strong motion instruments around the earthquake epicenter. These will help us get better coverage over the aftershock area, as the more instruments you have, the better earthquake size/location information. 

Charlie beside the instrument

Our first stop was my old primary Eketahuna School, here we checked in on technicians Daniel and Charlie who had just finished upgrading the permanent strong motion site EKTS we have at the school. 

We then traveled out east  past Alfredton, towards the quake epicenter, where quite a few roads were damaged like the picture below.
SH53 had lots of damage

There wasn't a lot of cellphone coverage so it was tricky to find a place for our instruments, they also need power and to sit on a concrete pad. Lara had done a lot of prep beforehand and had narrowed down some ideal areas, but we still had to drive around a fair bit looking for houses that had both cellphone coverage, and an ideal area for the instrument.

The first farm we visited were happy to let us install some equipment, so our first strong motion site is in their chiller room.

Sam busy installing
The farm is on top of a small hill so one of the few places in the area with excellent cell phone signal, which we need as the data is sent back to us via the cellphone network.

Sam has to secure the cases to the concrete floor, he does this by drilling and using bolts, so we really appreciate the home-owners letting us take up power, space and drill holes!

The basalt then gets bolted into the case, this is the instrument which records the shaking of the earthquakes.

The Basalt

The sites all have external GPS which gives us accurate position and, more importantly, accurate timing of the quakes.


Epicenter just over there

On our way to the second site we drove right past the (rough) M6.2 quake epicenter location (beside Pa Valley Road)  just over in the paddock!  As you would expect there was a lot of road damage and slips around this area.

Our second spot was a tad south at Ihuraua, the farmer had some impressive cracking on his property, he kindly let us use a small room in one of his sheds. 

Sam drilling

After each site is installed Sam checks to make sure the GPS is talking to the satellites and then calls work to make sure the data is coming through.

 Although a large earthquake is not the most ideal time, it was quite neat to be in that area again, as its been some time since i was that far out of Eketahuna.  And two of our instruments ended up at homes of people that knew my family.


 Most of the people we had spoken to had some damage, things fall over and break in their houses, cracks in walls and paths etc.  Its important if this happens after a quake, to not just pick things back up and put them how they were. As we live in such a seismically active country, we always have to be prepared for earthquakes. 

So this is a good time to make sure heavy items are secured to the wall and wont fall over again, valuables on shelves wont fall off and break. And to check your chimneys and hot water cylinders for damage and protect them for the future.   EQC have a really handy website called Fix. Fasten, Don't Forget  which makes this process really simple, it has great information on how to protect all of these things and more.

Also to help get this important message across  GNS Science, MCDEM and EQC have gotten together to share a reminder on preparing for earthquakes

 A little effort now, will save a lot of heartache and nuisance later on!

And finally, its always important to wear appropriate
clothing ...

1 comment:

  1. Tsk. That's a bit of trouble, indeed. Glad you got through it, despite the impairment of the coverage. It would have been a lot better if the coverage was improved or expanded through the sturdy installment of more cell towers across the area. Maybe something developers can take note of, to equip the rescue contingencies next time.

    Jen @ Tower Point