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Why it’s so important to mark the anniversaries of earthquakes – Ursula Cochran

Posted in Reflections On Science on November 9th, 2017.

As the one year anniversary of the Kaikōura earthquake nears, GNS scientist Dr Ursula Cochran writes on The Spinoff why it’s important to mark the anniversaries of earthquakes, even ones that happened 300 years ago.

Kaikōura earthquake/GNS Science.

An excerpt (read in full):

Measuring how far we’ve come as a nation in living wisely with earthquakes is a good reason to mark longer anniversaries of historical earthquakes. The sesquicentennial for the 1855 AD Wairarapa earthquake shone an interesting light on progress since European settlement of Wellington. Some strides have been huge – yes, we now know we live on a plate boundary, we’ve invented base isolators, and we have the Earthquake Commission.

But can’t we hear the voices of those early Wellingtonians – those who witnessed the 1855 tsunami washing into Lambton Quay and who trembled in their tents for months after the earthquake – asking us so many questions? “Why did you keep building in unreinforced masonry? Why have you been building on low-lying land so close to the sea, and reclaiming land without strengthening it? Why have you been building on really steep hillsides?”

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