The New Zealand Earthquake: A Wooster Geologist Eyewitness Report

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND–Andrew Collins is a Wooster geology student studying abroad at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Here is his account of Saturday morning’s earthquake:

Just got another tremor as I sat here writing! Certainly is active!

I don’t really know what to say! It was definitely an odd feeling being awoken at 4:30 am to violent shaking. My room’s on the third floor and hangs out right over the walkway, so my first instinct was to get out of there and move toward the support structure of the building. I had a pretty hard time walking down the hallway – eventually I just gave up and sat on the couch and waited for it to subside, at which I point I got dressed and left the building.

I went downtown with one of my flatmates and took these pictures. It was a bit of a mess. We managed to get there before the police had closed off everything, so we got to go some places we probably shouldn’t have. Cars were crushed; facades had been torn from buildings and had basically fallen face-first into the street; fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances were going every which way; and bulldozers were being unloaded off flatbeds at every street corner. It definitely seemed a bit like a dream. I guess the most important thing is that nobody got killed. That’s pretty incredible when you figure that Christchurch is a city of 315,000 sitting on loose soil at the edge of the Pacific Ocean (sounds like a certain other city prone to earthquakes, no?).

(Another tremor)

The ground hasn’t actually stopped moving since the earthquake (it’s been about 32 hours now). It’s constantly trembling and then every once in a while there’s a noticeable aftershock (between 3.0 and 6.0 – most probably between 3 and 4).

Shopfront in Christchurch, New Zealand.

(Andrew Collins will be adding more text and images about the earthquake to his blog later this week. We are very pleased that he is doing fine, and our thoughts go out to the Christchurch community as they begin their recovery.)

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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6 Responses to The New Zealand Earthquake: A Wooster Geologist Eyewitness Report

  1. Elyssa Krivicich says:

    I am glad to hear that you are safe and sound. Thanks for posting this to the website to let us know your experience. Have a great time in NZ and hope to hear more about your trip!

  2. Meagen Pollock says:

    So glad that you’re safe. Thanks for the eyewitness account of the earthquake! I can’t wait to hear more.

  3. Keith Olson says:

    Thanks for the first hand descriptions. That the ground has continually been shaking is interesting (I’ve never been in such a large earthquake). Its also incredible that no one was killed amidst all of the destruction I’ve seen in images. Good luck with a quick recovery!

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