Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wellington earthquake risk overestimated for years...

Wellington earthquake risk has been over-estimated for years...

The Wellington, New Zealand, earthquake risk is less than previously thought. The experts have been telling us for years that the next big one is just round the corner. But now our fears have been alleviated just a little.

GNS Science says the likelihood of a major quake on the Wellington fault line in the next century is fifty percent less than thought.

The risk of a big earthquake flattening Wellington may have been overestimated for years.

The study from GNS Science has found that the likelihood of a major rupture on the Wellington fault line during the next 100 years is fifty percent less than previously thought.

GNS scientist Russ Van Dissen says the study could provide some relief for Wellingtonians.

"Big one might be less likely but smaller or more distant earthquakes can still have a significant impact on the city. And the extra good news is those smaller or more localised impacting events are the ones that we can do the most about."

Mr Van Dissen says should a big one strike, Wellington's hospital could be damaged, the water system could go down and roads out of the city could be blocked. He says this could alter the basis on which Wellingtonians make business and investment decisions.

Fred McCoy from the Wellington City Council says despite the lowered risk, residents should remain prepared.

"Frankly that's what worries me - that people will say that they no longer need to be as prepared so they stop being vigilant about keeping water and food and having a plan and knowing what they're going to do."

Mr McCoy says the risks still exist and the council will not be changing its earthquake response. The bang just may not be as big as expected - but how big is big?

Acknowledgements: 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

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