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calendar   Monday - March 07, 2011

Can’t Be Fixed

20% of Christchurch New Zealand to be plowed under

Earthquake turned the soil to liquid that no longer supports buildings

10,000+ homes to be lost





WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Some 10,000 houses in Christchurch will have to be demolished because of damage from last month’s earthquake and parts of the city will have to be abandoned altogether, the country’s leader said Monday.

The magnitude 6.3 temblor hit within three miles (five kilometers) of Christchurch and close to the surface on Feb. 22. It shattered homes, heritage buildings and office blocks, and caused 166 confirmed deaths. Officials say the toll is expected to rise to more than 200 as rescuers continue to search for bodies trapped in the rubble.

Earthquakes can cause sections of earth to liquefy and push up to the surface as watery silt, a process called liquefaction. In Christchurch, 260,000 tons of silt have already been scraped away.

“There are some parts of Christchurch that can’t be rebuilt on,” Prime Minister John Key told reporters. “The liquefaction damage from the ... earthquake is so great and the land damage ... is so significant we can’t remediate it.”

Key said some 10,000 houses will have to be demolished in the city, including 3,300 that were damaged by an earlier magnitude 7.1 quake on Sept. 4. That quake was deeper and further away than the Feb. 22 event, and did not cause any deaths or as much damage.

As well, several hundred central city commercial buildings will have to be bulldozed, Key said.

“Potentially there are some ... areas of Christchurch which will need to be abandoned and we will have to provide other alternatives for people to live in because the land has been so badly damaged, we can’t fix it — certainly not in a reasonable time frame,” he said.

Soil liquefaction is a geological phenomena that occurs when soil in a very high water table condition is subject to vibration. And it has been raining like mad this winter in the lands down under. The ground vibrations knock apart the cohesiveness of the soil, the water table drains in or gets squeezed up, and the soil almost instantly turns into quicksand. Christchurch had been hit by the Darfield earthquake back in September, and that 7.1 magnitude 40 second event started the process. Then came the rains.  The latest earthquake came on February 22 with a magnitude of 6.3. Because it had nearly the same epicenter as the quake back in September (24 miles apart is a geologic nada), it is considered to actually be an aftershock ( a reprise ) of the earlier quake. Other geologists argue that this one was it’s own earthquake, since it happened along a different fault line that they didn’t even know existed until the quake. I gather there are layers of those under the city. The February 22nd event was a very fast quake, more of a “pop” than a “slide”; described as a “strike-slip event with oblique motion”, some areas of land which moved vertically only 50cm did that moving at more than 2.2g, which was fast enough to throw people right off the ground and up into the air. 

Whether more of the city will have to be abandoned remains to be seen.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/07/2011 at 09:39 AM   
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