Whole Lotta Shakin’ Still Going On


Well I said shake baby shake    I said shake baby shake
I said shake it baby shake it   I said shake baby shake
Come on over  Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on

Jerry Lee would be pleased: Christchurch has sure been shakin’ again*. 111 days after the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 the emergency phone number 111 has had quite a workout in the last 24 hours in Christchurch. A seismic swarm of shallow and quite violent shocks was felt last night, on Xmas evening, and during the day today,   Boxing Day, starting with a wake up  4.2 magnitude call just after 2am and a flurry of quakes,  the largest a 4.9 magnitude jolt at 10.30am.  After a period of relative quietude on the earthquake front we’ve had 29 shakes already today and it’s only 9.30pm.

The Greendale fault* seems to be aimed like a seismic arrow right at our place and the city centre  of Christchurch 12 kilometres away and the cosmic aim seems to be improving. The recent shocks were virtually all uncannily epicentred inside the Christchurch urban area, several in the inner city, looking on the quake map*  like the results of World War II precision pattern bombing.

The big one on 4 September  struck when people were asleep. Today we were very much awake and out and about. Before the first hour of Boxing Day sales had been completed the shops were emptied. This was the last thing hard pressed retailers needed. Instead of one out of the box their big post-Xmas sales day was abruptly curtailed.  In parts of the city more damage was done today than in the Big Shake. The biggest blow was to slowly returning inner city shopping confidence, already  mauled by the malls over a number of years before being shaken by  the quake. The retail shake out was already serious; it will be worse now.

Less than a fortnight ago  outside my office on Manchester Street  I saw a council traffic warden  patrolling purposefully north to south, between Cambridge Terrace and Kilmore Street,  past the only 2 parked cars on either side of the road and 25 empty parking  spaces. What was he doing still walking the chalk in a part of town with greatly reduced post-quake levels of traffic?  Warding off the last two cars so he can chalk up a clean sweep of the block?  Tonight a new cordon remains in part of the inner city.

For a compulsive paintings straightener like me the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquake has been particularly challenging. So far there have been 4,127 after shocks-two the other night-a 3.5 and a  3.6 at exactly the same time, near Kennedys Bush where we live, albeit at different depths. Are we now experiencing aftershocks of aftershocks? There have been a lot of tiddler aftershocks which don’t show up on Geonet. I’m far from the only one who has several times since early September asked myself whether that a was a natural tremor or whether I’ve just got DTs. If you are thinking of visiting Christchurch still come on over. There might  be a lot of shakin’ going on but we need you, especially in the shops and the cafes.



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