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New Zealand Part 1: Vulcanism, Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics at Te Papa

January 19, 2010

Dear Reader – please excuse my tardiness. I find I am overwhelmed by the natural disaster in Haiti. It feels frivolous to regale you with my insights and adventures in New Zealand so let me instead talk a little bit about the similarities between these two island nations.

1. They are both Island nations.

2. They’ve both experienced at least one earthquake on January 12, 2010 (NZ had 2!)

I confess a fascination with Earthquakes – I live in a fault zone area and we are waiting for ‘the big one’.  The Te Papa museum in Wellington, NZ has an excellent interactive installation that covers Earthquakes and Vulcanism – oh and its free.  They even have an ‘earthquake house’ that lets you experience a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. Best of all – its FREE. 

New Zealand has experienced 6 earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 6 in the last 10 years with only 1 fatality.  This Island nation is constantly battered by earthquakes (16 so far in 2010! **).  The most catastrophic earthquake recorded in New Zealand is the Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931 which took the lives of 256 people.

Haiti has had only one major earthquake in modern history – but when she does, she has a doozie:

Tuesday, January 12th at 21:53:10 UTC a magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred at a depth of 13km (8.1 miles) and 25 km WSW of Port-Au-Prince* and currently the death toll is confirmed at 72,000 and rising.

The analysis of Haiti is starting to come out; shallow epicentre, poor building codes, over crowding, economic and political instability and yet the world rallies.  We don’t point fingers in blame we just try to help. Aid is coming, from my students, already struggling who are collecting small change, to governments and relief agencies mobilizing rapidly.

I think of my daytimer, when I have my work load all planned out and an ’emergency’ throws my work day and productivity all out of whack.  Today I’m thinking of world leaders, who, let’s face it, their schedule is probably busier than mine, quickly responding to help our neighbour.

My heart is heavy for Haiti yet filled with joy for the human kindness I see mobilizing around me.

Vancouverites – timely reminder to check your earthquake preparedness kits!

Last tidbit in this sadly disjointed piece – Maori’s have a beautiful symbol called ‘Koru’.  It is inspired by the unfurling fern frond and one of the meanings associated with it is ‘New Beginnings’.  This is me, visualizing a ‘Koru’ for the people of Haiti, and sending strength for all the New Beginnings this tragedy has created .

Koru from the Wellington Botanical Gardens

UPDATE: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 11:03:44 UTC Haiti experienced an aftershock of 5.9 magnitude**


*source: U.S.G.S. – US Geological Survey


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 11:50 am

    I had no idea we were waiting for an earthquake in Vancouver…I must say, earthquakes are one of my biggest fears. I cannot imagine what the people of Haiti must have gone and still be going through.

    I love the ‘Koru’ message, Kim. I’ll be reading your blog from now on (I never really had time to stop on your page before), expect more comments from me. 🙂



  2. January 21, 2010 11:36 am

    Earthquake room??? That sounds rad. You tried it out I’m sure???
    I was watching the morning news today where a scientist was talking about plate techtonics and the likelihood of even more earthquakes now that the fault is active. Apparently the last earthquake in Haiti was in the 1700’s. Wow. There are many great places to donate – Oxfam is the one I am continually hearing to be the one most recommended. The CBC website has a page dedicated to organizations to donate to. I’ve chosen to make a donation through the Tzu Chi Foundation – Bhuddist Compassionat Relief – as they are an organization that has supported the non-profit I work for – Aunt Leah’s – and I saw them in Oakridge Mall yesterday where they have a table set up and they are distributing information and accepting donations. It’s a good time to give.
    Take care,

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