Effects of Kaikoura quake evident – In the News

Three weeks after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the South Island, isolating the coastal town of Kaikoura and shutting buildings in Wellington, the impact of the shake on the South Island’s geology is apparent.

Medway River landslide dam. GeoNet.
Medway River landslide dam. GeoNet.

GeoNet scientists have been up in the air spotting landslides in the Kaikouras and Southern Alps – they estimate between 80,000 and 100,000 landslides, triggered by the initial earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. In a blog post, GeoNet wrote that three of the resulting landslide dams were of most concern, in Linton Stream, Conway River and Hapuku River.

Emergency legislation currently being passed through Parliament will allow some of the debris that resulted from those landslides to be pushed into the sea, in order to allow the main roads around the Kaikoura coast to be re-opened.

The Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquake Recovery (Emergency Relief) Bill 2016, which passed its first reading in Parliament last week would extend the timeframe for which someone could give notice or apply for retrospective consent for emergency works under the Resource Management Act.

Marine biologists told Radio NZ that pushing the debris into the sea would likely harm the marine life in the area. University of Canterbury’s Professor David Schiel said he understood the urgency of getting roads re-opened, but there were real concerns about how the materials would be disposed.

“The real question is, how limited is that in-shore rocky reef along that area and are we willing as a nation to sacrifice those reefs for a number of years in order to clear those roads?”

Offshore, scientists aboard Niwa’s research vessel Tangaroa surveying off the Kaikoura coast found evidence of a major underwater landslide. And from well above the country, NASA’s Earth Observatory captured satellite imagery showing the scale of land uplift around the Kaikoura coast.

Media coverage of the effects of the Kaikoura earthquake include:

NZ Herald: Scientists: Three Kaikoura quake landslide dams pose ‘highest level of hazard’
Radio NZ: Giant underwater landslide in the Kaikōura Canyon
Debris to be dumped in ocean to fast-track Kaikoura road repairs
Radio NZ: Slips would ‘gloop together’ if pushed into sea
NZ Herald:
Stunning NASA photos show new Kaikoura land raised by quake