2012 Overture

January 4, 2012

“Restless night. These are some serious earthquakes.”
“I can’t stop shaking now so I can’t tell if the earth’s moving or it’s just me.”
“Got teens out of bed and under a table – so it must have been big!”
Twitter comments 2/1/12

Is there no reprieve or even time off for good behaviour?  In a reprise of 23 December’s 2012 Overture Christchurch continues to be hammered by earthquakes with a further 50 in the 24 hours to 6pm Monday- two over 5.0 and six 4.0s.* Not too many ringing chimes-most churches with bells are munted- and it’s a bit thin on the brass fanfare,  but  there’s plenty of cannon fire.  130 years after he penned his famous piece Tchaikovsky would be impressed with the special effects.

Hopefully we’re seeing off the seismic enemy like the Russians and winter saw off Napoleon’s army in 1812 but we swamp dwellers are all a bit sick of being apprehensive and defensive during the Christmas and New Year festival season.

On Monday the city had been initially shaken awake at 1.27am with a 5.1 magnitude centred 20km north of Lyttelton.* The largest shake- 5.58 magnitude on the “local magnitude” scale -was another wake  up call at 5.45am and was centred 20km north east of Lyttelton at a depth of 15km. In Christchurch it was mainly felt as a strong rolling motion, rather than a short, sharp jolt that seems to do more damage. It was a Mercalli  VI – “Felt by everyone. Difficult to stand. Some heavy furniture moved, some plaster falls. Chimneys may be slightly damaged.” Not that there are many left still standing in large parts of the city. It was followed nine minutes later by a 4.1 in the same region. 10,000 Christchurch homes lost electricity temporarily.

Dodgy media coverage
The Press reports that footage of past earthquake damage has been used in overseas coverage of the latest quakes .Australian TV news featured scenes of flooded streets and collapsed buildings despite no further reported significant damage from the latest shakes. I suppose this should be expected-everything else on TV is a re-run-but it’s misleading and bad for tourism.

Perhaps we can promote the adventure tourism angle, though the streets of Christchurch are a lot safer than the country’s mountains and rivers and really worth a visit as the inner city Red Zone continues to shrink. Ironically, the suburban red zones will no doubt expand after the cumulative damage and new liquefaction in the past fortnight.

West of the Wall
The West Wall of Christ Church Cathedral has completely collapsed following fresh damage from the 23 December quake and returning holiday makers will no doubt find exacerbated damage from the latest instalment. In its on-line editions, The Press still features a photo of the spire-less cathedral with the lovely stained-glass Rose Window, once a feature of this wall, still intact. It was shattered six months ago in the June 13 quakes.

The question mark over the cathedral is getting even bigger with every new serious shake as a decision is imminent on plans to build the “Cardboard Cathedral”* on the vacant land of an unnamed Christchurch parish,   if parishioners agree, as a centre for the diocese and use by other organisations.

Aftershocks or foreshocks?
Are the latest shocks the “last gasp”of the deadly February 22 fault?*  Or are the “aftershocks” really foreshocks-part of a fault network triggering mechanism that will eventually bring the Main Alpine Fault into play, as portrayed in the prescient 1996 TV documentary Quake! ?* Whatever the anxieties we have no option but to remain positive, even if the teeth are a bit gritted.

Looking back-looking forward
January is named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces so he could look ahead into future and back into the past simultaneously. In the moving now- and in the very best sense- we too have to be two faced at this new crossroads in our civic history.

Here are some lovely New Year words penned by a friend in Sydney:
“A new year is unfolding, like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within. Let this year be filled with things that are truly good, with comfort of warmth in our relationships, the strength to help those who need our help and humility and openness to accept help from others.

It is an unspoilt page in our book of time. Our next chance at the art of living, opportunity to practice what we have learnt about life from past. All that we seek and didn’t find is hidden in the coming year, waiting for us to search it but with more determination. All that we dreamed but didn’t dare do, all that we hoped for but did not will, all the faith that we claimed but did not have, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose…” Tejinder Hansra

The New Year is our opportunity to renew our commitment to our fast changing city. We just hope that as the year unfolds the tunes that follow the 2012 Overture are a little less percussive (for some avoidable human percussion see the YouTube video below: Nuclear 1812 Symphony Finale*).

As recovery gets into gear we also hope that we can all sing off the same song-sheet. That is a big ask in contentious Christchurch.

http://www.canterburyquakelive.co.nz/ Quake by quake tracking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkTy6ogLDX8   Vid  Earthquake!  Christchurch 1996
 http://bluggerme.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/cardboard-cathedral-the-real-monty-python/  My blogpost on the CC.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo48YpNOesQ&NR=1&feature=endscreen   Nuclear 1812 Symphony Finale Vid Avoidable percussion.

#Lyall Lukey 4 January 2012
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog