“If you strip away the sediment and gravels of Christchurch and the Canterbury plains you would see the bedrock looking like broken glass from millions of years of earthquake activity”, explains Dr. Kelvin Berryman (GNS Science, 2011). Such an illustrative description reveals the the reality of New Zealand’s seismic activity and the vulnerability of its population. Although the February 22, Earthquake produced widespread damage and a death toll of 165, it should be understood that Earthquakes are a commonality in New Zealand’s geological history. The city of Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city with a population of 390,000. It is strikingly similar to Victoria, British Columbia physiographically and demographically. With national GDP per capita at: NZ$42,974. New Zealand is considered to be a developed country with a generally high quality of life (New Zealand, 2009). It is technologically advanced in its seismological research. Geo-scientists utilize earthquake monitoring networks, seismographs, GPS equipment to measure tectonic strain, and even motion sensors to monitor how buildings and other structures, like bridges, function during a quake (GNS Science, 2011). However, even though engineers work to use this information to develop safe building codes, many older buildings and infrastructure that do not adhere to modern building code are prevalent throughout the city. The February 22, 2011 earthquake destroyed many buildings and affected many people. When determining the progression of vulnerability, Wisner et al.’s (2008) Pressure and Release Model (PAR) can be used to better understand the root causes dynamic pressures and unsafe conditions that led to such a devastating disaster.
Background to the February aftershock and New Zealand’s geological history
New Zealand is located where the Pacific and Indian tectonic plates meet to form the Alpine Fault, a geographical feature so defined it can be seen from space (Walcott, 1978)....