Responding to the Monster – Reflections on Science

GeoNet’s director Dr Ken Gledhill wrote a heartfelt post about Monday morning’s magnitude 7.5 earthquake and the resulting tsunami warning.

[Note: since this was written, the November 14 earthquake has been upgraded to magnitude 7.8.]

An excerpt (read in full):

M7.5 Earthquake: a monster in the making

As a geophysicist, there are a few important things to know about this quake and they are already available in various places and forms. It was a monster quake, one that has shocked us all with its intensity and ferocity. Because of its size it made our world shake strongly but relatively slowly for a very long time. It is a complex, brooding beast we are still trying to understand. Although we published information on it very quickly, please forgive us as we tell you more and revise what we have already told you.

Tsunami: those who took action did the right thing

In terms of the tsunami, I said it here in the M7.1 East Cape Earthquake. Because we do not have a 24/7 monitoring centre we have to wake people and get them out of bed to look at complex data and make serious calls very quickly. It is not an ideal situation given the past few months and I’d like to change that by getting support for a 24/7 monitoring centre for geohazards. I’m going to be blatant in my campaigning for this, because I think we need a 24/7 monitoring centre to respond to these kinds of events.

But, even with a 24/7, we may still not have been fast enough for people in Kaikoura. The best advice is still: if you are at the coast, and feel a long or strong earthquake, be gone. For those people who took those brave steps in the middle of the night of the tsunami, I applaud your efforts. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. For people who were further away and waited but left once told to evacuate, YOU ALSO DID THE RIGHT THING. We were lucky the tsunami struck at low tide; high tide could have left more damage than I feel comfortable thinking about.

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