SeismiCity: Graphic Quake Warning Ignored

‘Christchurch’s “fatal flaw” was the land that it sat on – “a soft, shaky sponge of riverstones and silt half a kilometre deep.,”In any decent quake, the Garden City will shake like a leaf,” ‘ 1996 documentary  Earthquake!*

Grant Dixon, the director of the 15-year-old documentary Earthquake!, warning of the effects of a major earthquake on Christchurch’s eastern suburbs and heritage buildings, says lives could have been saved if officials had heeded the film’s warnings*.

A recently edited eight-minute clip of the 1996 documentary* has received more than 78,000 YouTube views since 5 March.

The Jurassic jelly the city sits on magnifies the graphically portrayed resonance frequency amplification effect which causes destruction. “In any decent quake, the Garden City will shake like a leaf…”   

Former Christchurch City Council engineer, the late Bryan Bluck, was  presciently outspoken when interviewed for the doco. In his role as council building control manager he said that “hundreds of old buildings” in the city had not been strengthened and were likely to collapse in an earthquake. “Well, really, your heritage list, to be quite cruel, defines most of your earthquake-prone buildings…”

As it turned out, the seismic net was cast a lot wider. There are or will be a lot more prone buildings than those on the heritage list.

The documentary said that liquefaction would cause sewers and drains to burst apart, roads to break up and buildings to sink or tip over.

Former Christchurch City Council sewers unit manager Alan Watson warned of what he could have called a Sewers Crisis:  Christchurch had a high risk of liquefaction, especially in the eastern suburbs.

For many of us “liquefaction” is a post September 4 2010 term. Many people-especially the shovelling Student Army- now have had a hands-on experience of the resultant silt twice in six months.

Earthquake! rated well on TV but went down like a lead demolition ball at City Hall, despite the courageous stance of Brian Bluck and others. As its director says, it was greeted with “a deafening silence” from officials.

The echo chamber of history will have much more to divulge.

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*Blinks   Vid  Earthquake!  Christchurch 1996 Why buildings collapse 

#Lyall Lukey 12 Mar  2011  My other less serious blog


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