Quake expert warns of ‘Chch on steriods’
An earthquake triggered by a rupture in the Alpine Fault would be like ‘‘Christchurch on steroids’’, an emergency management conference has been told.
About 50 emergency-related organisations from across the country were introduced to Project AF8 [Alpine Fault Magnitude 8], a group set up to ‘‘collectively plan for an Alpine Fault event’’.
The talk was part of the South Island Civil Defence Emergency Management Conference held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort in Queenstown on Friday.
Emergency Management Southland manager Angus McKay said an Alpine Fault rupture and resulting earthquake would ‘‘change life in New Zealand’’.
‘‘If you thought Christchurch [earthquake] was bad, that’s Christchurch on steroids. It’s going to change the way of life.’’
About one million people visited Milford Sound annually and 30 per cent of all international visitors to New Zealand visited Milford Sound, the closest human habitation point to the Alpine Fault’s likely rupture point, McKay said.
‘‘When the Alpine Fault pops, there won’t be a Milford Sound any more.
‘‘After two years, we’re hoping to have a South Island Emergency Response Plan for the Alpine Fault. If we don’t get this right, we’re not serving our people.’’
The Project AF8 funding of $245,000 was part of the Government’s annual $889,000 Civil Defence and Emergency Management’s Resilience Fund announced in June.
Project AF8 science liaison Dr Caroline Orchiston from the University of Otago, said the fault had the potential to ‘‘pop off a big one [earthquake] pretty soon’’, but with research data from as far back as 1770AD, the group hoped to be able to pre- pare people for it.
When an earthquake did occur along the Alpine Fault, the damage would be widespread as the fault ‘‘is going to unzip basically’’, Orchiston said in a phone interview.
‘‘Queenstown would be badly affected but so would other places across the South Island.’’
The fault runs for about 400 kilometres up the South Island.
GNS Science said there was a 30 per cent chance of a large earthquake on the Alpine Fault in the next 50 years, which could cause horizontal movement of up to eight metres.
University of Otago scientist Dr Caroline Orchiston at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort in Queenstown on Friday.