Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

May 28, 2011

What the Minister told the Councillors about land retreat #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 3:52 pm

Gerry Brownlee and the CERA team are meeting regularly with all Christchurch elected members to brief us and keep two way communications going.

We met on Wednesday night. It will, I think, be the last meeting with John Ombler in the position of interim head. Roger Sutton, whose appointment as CERA’s first permanent Chief Executive has received huge community acclaim was also present and answered some questions. (He does great hugs too. Always a sign of a good leader.)

There were a number of matters discussed, the biggest of which I want to touch on here. It’s all information which you are welcome to share.

Minister Brownlee spoke at length and then answered a number of questions on where government is up to with the land assessment programme that may well see some land currently used for housing no longer able to be used in that way.

We are all awaiting the announcement from the Minister about where that land is. It’s the big question. It’s clear that it is occupying the vast majority of his time. Also clear is the fact that he wants the matter resolved quickly, but well, and that he is unable to make a determination yet because not all of the necessary material is available to the Crown.

Factoring into decisions about “retreat” are things like this.

– the ability of the ground to take treatment. Its bearing capacity. Its ablity to withstand further shaking into the future.

– economic issues

– precedent control (whatever is done in Christchurch has to be replicable elsewhere – and the EQC fund still has to provide care for the rest of the country.

– community matters (education, health, social, cultural wellbeing)

– future hazard control

The thought process the crown is following as they will be making their decisions on retreat includes this stuff.

– can the land be physically rememdiated?

– is crown intervention necessary to return it to its pre September condition?

– if so, what is the nature of that intervention – and is it viable?

– would reinsurance be reasonably available if housing were to return there?

– are there any other public policy issues that would militate against rebuilding?

The Minister made it very clear that one of the key considerations for him is making sure all participants are on the same page and heading in the same direction before decisions are made. He wants homeowners equity protected. My perception is that the final hurdle is getting consistency across the insurers – no easy task.

EQC alone has 40 reinsurers. Each of them has subsequent reinsurers. Cats to be herded. A phenomenal challenge for the world’s largest ever insurance event. (After the May 23rd deadline passed, EQC had received 344,364 claims, with 510,000 individual claims in that. Those numbers are far higher than Hurricane Katrina, higher than lowly insured Japan.)

On that scale issue, I have now heard repeated comments that Art Agnos who was mayor of San Francisco during their terrible quake was astonished at the enormity of ours. Theirs was confined to a relatively small area. Ours is huge.

That will make us the centre of attention for study for seismic activity for a long time. It’s now thought that we are looking at a longer term seismic series. (The latest guess is apparently that we have a 23% chance within the next year of a shake between 6 and 7 on the Richter scale, and dropping to 10% over the next 2 years. There is a chance of over 90% that we will have another shake between 5 and 6 in the next twelve months, dropping to over 70% in that two year horizon. Nobody was able to answer questions  about Mercalli scale or g-force or depth so you can take those figures for what they’re worth. What we are seemingly certain of is that you shouldn’t put your blu-tac away just yet.)

It’s likely too that we will be a monitored as a case study of how a community rebuilds after an event which is so big and so transformational. With every week that passes, it is clearer than before that we are not talking about picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, being the same and doing the same things. Our community and our city is undergoing a metamorphosis which is physical, human, psychological. None of us individually or as a collective will ever be the same again.

If you’re into statistics grab hold of these.

We have to completely replace about 300km of our sewer network. We have to repair 600km of roading network and replace more besides. Add into that our water and stormwater damage and with the Crown’s help we will be spending $500million per annum for five years. That is ten times what the CCC normally spends on capital expenditure. It is enormous.

We learnt too more about the timeline for CERA’s Recovery Strategy and Recovery Plans. There will be a formal public process which starts sometime in June. Full community engagement will be sought, and the ‘shareanidea’ material provided to the council is feeding into that second process.

We saw charts which indicated the city’s land has moved permanently, both up and down. The Port Hills have gone up, the rest of the city has gone down. It has spun clockwise to varying degrees right across the city. The estuary has moved upwards as much as two metres. It’s shallower. At some point we will have to make a call about how to handle that.

Some land has lost its structural integrity completely. Some has sunk very badly, some has fallen off. And the rocks are still there, and they will be for a while. They’ve been here longer than we’ve been here, after all.

I don’t have a clear answer about when the “retreat” question will be answered. I have a clear view, however, that Minister Brownlee is not a man who is prepared to tolerate procrastination, and that he is all too clear just how miserable and stressful it is for people waiting for the answers to that horrible question.

As hard as it is we just have to wait a little longer. In many ways this is probably the calm before the storm, a storm which I suspect is likely to fall upon us in the depths of a long, cold, Canterbury winter. All the more reason to hold the ones you love close, do the things you enjoy best, and try as hard as you can to keep the faith that we must be in for brighter days to come.



  1. Sue, superb stuff.Open, honest, straight.
    Can I nominate you for something blogoristic in the way of awards?
    Remember I don’t praise easily.
    Greg Jackson

    Comment by Greg Jackson — May 28, 2011 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  2. Sue – thanks 🙂 – so from this I take it that the Tonkin and Taylor land report won’t be released by the end of the month, or if it is it won’t tell us anything that any of living here don’t already know (it will just put it all on paper for others) – so …timeframes? T&T report? decisions? or do you know when we will get updates on these matters?

    Comment by Beth Jolly — May 28, 2011 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

    • No I don’t and I’m not speculating. The message from the minister was as hard as it is not to be announcing those decisions it is really important to have all the pieces together especially the insurance issues.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 29, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  3. As a former Brownlee Student a number of years ago I swore black and Blue that if he ever became PM I would resign my citzenship to this country. I will freely admit now that that would not be a good idea. He has by all accounts done an outstanding job. Well done Hon Min Brownlee

    Comment by Fomer Brownlee Student — May 28, 2011 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  4. Sue
    This is the most information we have had. Fantastic!
    We await the Tonkin and Taylor report with interest
    Thank you


    Comment by Grant Smith — May 28, 2011 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  5. stuff we can really understand – thanks for telling it like it is Sue.

    Comment by kim — May 28, 2011 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  6. Frig – the most pessimetic read I’ve had for a while. I think you need to take advantage of the rsources available to you, incl Psych services

    Comment by Jena — May 28, 2011 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  7. Dear Councillor Wells, Would you please cite the source of the seismic predictions to which you refer.

    Comment by Caroline Anderson — May 28, 2011 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  8. I am very disappointed in you, Councillor Wells, for not having cited your sources. You must know that people are stressed in Christchurc as it is, without having someone make statements about seismic predictions without citing their sources. Please lift your game.

    Comment by Caroline Anderson — May 28, 2011 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  9. And please don’t use nebulous waffly language such as “a storm which I suspect is likely to fall upon us in the depths of a long, cold, Canterbury winter.” No one knows exactly what you mean by such drivel. Please be clear and think about how your words might affect people before writing this kind of thing.

    Comment by Caroline Anderson — May 28, 2011 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

    • agree with you Carol, far too emotive. We just need the facts thanks.

      Comment by Annie — May 29, 2011 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

    • This is not a scientific report – this is a personal blog from a person who is going through exactly the same stuff we are all going through. Except this person happens to have access to some very useful information. I for one am very happy to hear how this can affect us emotionally. This is the most useful information I have heard since the quake.

      Comment by Toine — May 31, 2011 @ 9:55 am | Reply

      • Keep blogging Sue – yes its a blog – some of yours I like, others I dismiss, that’s fine. The whole point is that you are communicating (writing the blog and reading responses and listening to them and so on), and for that you are to be commended. There is such a void of people who have info willing to communicate – except those of us claimants who clamour for any info. Cheers!

        Comment by Beth Jolly — May 31, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  10. Gerry Brownlee didn’t mention sea level rise as a factor? I saw THAT planning map at the Council back in the ’80’s. Even the 0.5m contour was quite impressive for what was going to be uninhabitable.

    Comment by Richard Grevers — May 28, 2011 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  11. Could you substantiate the information on your paragraph the ‘latest guess’ for seismic activity in ChCh. I would be interested in the source of the information please or is this guess work? What you have said has scared the living daylights out of me.

    Comment by Sandra — May 29, 2011 @ 7:27 am | Reply

    • Hi Sandra. The figures were provided by roger sutton. I’m not sure whether they are from a single scientific source or whether they are the collective wisdom of many. That comment has generated some considerable interest and I have advised roger of that.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 29, 2011 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  12. what the hell has culture to do with earthquakes ,,a falling chimney aint picky it will fall on anyone ,,i suggest you people get your noses out of the trough and do your job ,,may pay to sort fletchers out ,,or are they filling the trough ,,i could rant on more but you know i’m right and you well know what i could rant on about ,,p.s you not there to guess anything

    Comment by edens — May 29, 2011 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  13. Thanks Sue – I wonder why the Press can’t report so clearly and informatively?

    Please keep it coming – we’re like sponges for information, even if it isn’t uplifting.

    thanks again

    Comment by Michelle Tom — May 30, 2011 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  14. We are checking this out today – I noticed these figures on here yesterday but we decided not to run anything until we are absolutely sure of the source of them… this is too important, and scary, to get wrong.

    And a comment for Michelle – we are only as good as the tip offs we get from people, we can’t report on something “clearly and informatively” if we don’t know it exists! So keep those news tips coming!

    In the past month it has been nigh on impossible to get any such information from the scientists involved, a major source of frustration for us as we are well aware how much readers want to know about what is really going on.

    Paul Gorman
    Science reporter, The Press

    Comment by Paul Gorman — May 30, 2011 @ 11:58 am | Reply

    • Hey Paul, thanks for the reply. Your frustration is our frustration – perhaps now you know Sue gets her hands on the good stuff you can cultivate her!

      Comment by Michelle Tom — June 2, 2011 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

    • My information is there will be no repairs ( other than emergency repairs – for safety, drainage ) done in Christchurch as the Insurance Underwriters ( in Europe ) are not happy with the land we live on. My information is – They have said there will be no repairs( other than those described ) done for 3 months after the last 4 magnitude earthquake. In other words every time there is a Mag 4 ( presumably richter ) we are set back 3 months.

      For the Underwriters – its all a matter of risk and the risk for insuring Christchurch at the moment is too high.
      Can either Paul Gorman or Sue Wells confirm this for me – and more positively for the residents of Christchurch. If its true it makes sense as to why everyone is walking around with their hands in their pockets.

      Comment by Ian Kington — June 10, 2011 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  15. Hi Sue, many thanks for the informative update. The larger issues surrounding the complexity involved in land retreat decisions is interesting and useful to inspire patience and allow officials to achieve optimal outcomes. I wish that Brownlee would at least communicate this type of information so people can get an insight into the process. The lack proper messaging is lamentable.

    Comment by David Stringer — May 30, 2011 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

  16. Thanks Sue, good to have some real information coming out of these meetings. Keep it up – the honesty is fine.

    Comment by Toni — May 30, 2011 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  17. I would like to know why EQC uses reinsurers. That just seems to hold up things. I thought they just invested the money themselves.

    Comment by Mike Readman — May 30, 2011 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

    • Hi Mike. It’s my understanding that all insurance companies including EQC use reinsurers. The book risk they cover is just so massive it’s the only way to do it. We had a great briefing a while back from the insurance ombudsman and the head of the insurance council and I will see if I can dig up my notes. I went to a seminar which one of the law firms offered on it too which was very good – it’s a moveable feast of an industry at the moment.
      If you google insurance ombudsman they have a very good website which is well worth a look.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 30, 2011 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

    • Ps mike – I blogged about it on April 11 – insurance, reinsurance, reassurance. Cheers.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 30, 2011 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  18. Thanks Sue. Good informative update. @Caroline Anderson – You were obviously having a bad day when you wrote your comments. You don’t have to read this or even like what Sue wrote – but I certainly don’t think you have to be so rude. Frankly I thought the whole article was excellent and that Sue clearly understands at what stage a lot of the community are at with her comments regarding the “calm before the storm” etc.

    Comment by Trish Greenwood — May 30, 2011 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

    • Well said Trish. Keep it up Sue.

      Comment by Suzy — May 30, 2011 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

    • @Trish Greenwood. I will say what I like, Trish. I was disappointed that Councillor Wells, who is paid by the ratepayer, chose to publish this information without referring to the precise source of the information.People in Canterbury are stressed and need to be properly informed. I appreciate the fact that we have been informed, but I like to know the source of such information. I do not apologise for my comments – to you, or to Councillor Wells. In future, I expect any information that is released to be backed up with the source of the information.

      Comment by Caroline Anderson — May 31, 2011 @ 8:45 am | Reply

      • The fact that figures were given in detail at an official briefing from CERA/Government agencies is sufficient citation in the circumstances. Each department is sticking to their specializations, so did you really think this data could have come from any source other than GNS and the international experts who are now working with them?

        Comment by Richard Grevers — May 31, 2011 @ 10:52 am

      • Dear Councillor Wells, and Trish Greenwood, This is not an apology, but it is an acknowledgment of your concerns, Trish, that I may have been a bit hard on the Councillor with my comments. I have reflected on this. I just want Councillor Wells to understand how stressful it is for some of us when significant information is published without the exact source of that information being referred to. I appreciate that Councillor Wells may have thought that referring to the information as having come from CERA might be enough, but for some of us that is not enough. We need to know the exact source of the information. I appreciate that Councillor Wells saw fit to publish the information when it was not published by the “mainsteam” media. I think the publication of the information in this blog has highlighted the need for such information to be made available to the public and to be made available through what I would call the “ordinary channels”, such as the the Press newspaper and the radio. I also think it has highlighted the need for such information to be published in its entirety, rather than just small snippets of sensational information being published. I therefore thank Councillor Wells for bringing this information to our attention.

        Comment by Caroline Anderson — June 4, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  19. What an excellent blog you write Sue. This one in particular was great and so informative – the Horseshoe Lake Residents Assn has a Facebook page and I shared this info with them and it was greatly appreciated considering we having been waiting for over 8 months for a decision on our land. I also write a newsletter for the Residents Assn and will be sharing this with them also – keep up the good work – we all need information, it is empowering to the residents who need to hear the facts. We just want the truth, whether good or bad we just want it.

    Thanks Sue

    Comment by Janette Hinton — May 30, 2011 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  20. While the ‘predictions’ have significantly raised my stress levels and nerves I am thankful. All I have wanted is for someone to honestly tell me if it is over or not, what the likeliness of more is or isn’t. I dont want to live in a bubble thinking it will all nicely calm down and get caught out if there is a chance that there could be another shock of significant size. Its a reminder to be prepared. To carry my cell phone, let someone know where I will be if the kids and I go for a country walk etc. Its easy to get complacent with the smaller aftershocks and Im thankful for the warning. I dont suppose there is any information as to where the likeliness of another big aftershock will be? Do the scientists think pressure is building anywhere in particular?

    Comment by Anna — May 30, 2011 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

    • Anna I’m really sorry that the numbers in there raised your stress levels. I feel bad that I’ve done that. I know what you mean though – you’re absolutely right about preparedness. I got badly caught out in February – thought it was all over – and have learnt my lesson. As far as any more info, no, there was nothing able to be offered about where or when or anything like that. I do just want to make the point too, these numbers are Richter scale, not MMS (modified Mercalli scale). Richter is affected so much by depth and location. Those “probability” forecasts don’t take into account those factors, nor do they answer questions about g-force. The GNS website has lots of stuff on it too if you feel like having a fossick around.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 30, 2011 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

      • Dont be sorry. i think its good to not get complacent about the shocks. Yes I feel more stressed after reading it but then again better than thinking its all ok and taking my kids walking near some rocky out crops, or not keeping my emergency kit up-to-date in case or something! Actually I feel like this is the first bit of honesty thats been offered to me.

        Comment by Anna — May 30, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

  21. Thank you Sue for your straight up post here. Although I didn’t enjoy reading about possible future events, I did appreciate being given the information that has come from people in the know. Living on Clifton Hill, and somewhat anxious about the findings of the geotech engineers’ monitoring, I’m well aware that the effects of the winter could bring bad news for us. If there’s any way that I/we can be advised of future public meetings about these findings I’d like to know about them. I seem to have missed lately.

    Comment by Jillian Wilson — May 31, 2011 @ 7:13 am | Reply

    • Thanks Gillian. I will drop you an email later today and see who I can connect you up with.

      Comment by Sue Wells — May 31, 2011 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  22. Good update? Gives us more grim predictions and tells us we have to hang on for longer. Great, I already knew that while paying a mortgage and rates on a property that is beggared but no one will give us the word so that we can get things settled. Reports in hand but thats not enough it appears. How about addressing that side of things? Oh wait, you did, we just have to hang on a bit longer yet. Thanks

    Comment by Gadgitgirl — May 31, 2011 @ 7:53 am | Reply

  23. Of course we are going to have on going activity, the whole world is! What the Government isn’t telling the people is this is all planetary….. we are going to have major activity from September 2011 to November 2011, due to Comet Elenin coming very very close to Earth. In past records via NASA solar system orbits this comet causes major earth quakes each time it aligns with the Sun and Earth. Thequakes get bigger in magnitude the closer it gets to Earth eg Chile, Sept 4th, Japan. The 22 Feb was due to 2 solar system alignments and a solar flare or storm from the Sun on the 18th February! We can not change nature or the universe, we just have to learn to survive….. look out for alignments of Sun, Elenin & Earth around 27th September 2011 and again after it has crossed Earths orbit and passed to re align on the other side, Sun, Earth, Elenin 22 November 2011. The more we know the more we can prepare for a natural disaster, we must be getting better at in now after 2 quakes……..

    Comment by Dee Evans — May 31, 2011 @ 7:57 am | Reply

    • Weird…. I’ll stick with Sue’s sources.

      Comment by Alister — June 3, 2011 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

    • Channelling the (mercifully departed) Ken Ring?

      Comment by Chairman Meow — June 23, 2011 @ 1:07 am | Reply

    • Comets are fairly small, and elenin is thought to be small by comet standards – maybe a few thousand tons. It won’t come nearer than 35 million km from us. As a NASA spokeperson said “my subcompact car has more effect on earth’s tides than that comet does”.

      Comment by Richard Grevers — June 23, 2011 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  24. Sue thank you!! Finally we get to hear some up front information. Stuff like this shouldn`t be talked about behind closed doors. It is information for us all. Telling about future possibilities does not need to be seen as scaremongery. They used to say forewarned is forearmed. As a person with a disability this information reinforces for me that I need to stay away from places where I become a liability to others in the case of another quake.
    Not stressed – just practical.
    Sue don`t stop reporting this information.

    Comment by Carolyn Ford — May 31, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  25. Sue as always a fabulous read. I understand the emotions people feel when reading things like this but I wonder if people who negatively comment on blogs understand that a blog is not a news article which should be factually informative void of emotive wording but rather one persons personal thoughts. not fair to criticise the way an individual writes about things that are dear to them when it is clearly a personal outlet. We should be grateful that we are privy to the many insights you feel you need to share and not criticise you for the way you choose to share these.

    Comment by Sel — May 31, 2011 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  26. If the much awaited land report is along these lines there is hardly any need to receive it I guess as it will be so vague as to confuse people even more……….If we wait long enough, nature may sort thing out Atlantis style? Or maybe not.

    Comment by jon brian — May 31, 2011 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  27. Can you please push for this to be published formally and in a scientific format at a specified date. Waiting until August is a little more palatable than waiting a bit longer.Thanks for mentally preparing people for ‘maybe’ scenarios rather than leaving them hanging. There is no such thing as too much information at the moment.

    Comment by James Young — May 31, 2011 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  28. Thanks Sue for this info. Its nice to have something other than rumour and innuendo to read.

    Comment by Laurie — May 31, 2011 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

  29. Sue, Good on you for treating us all as adults. I hope Roger Sutton continues his open approach too when he takes over at Cera. On question: was any time frame given when “a longer term seismic series” was mentioned? Two years? Five? A hundred?

    Comment by Sharon Murphy — May 31, 2011 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  30. […] reports were based on a forecast by GNS Science which were then posted on a blog by Christchurch city councillor Sue […]

    Pingback by Parker reassures Chch residents on quake threat | Gov Grants — May 31, 2011 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  31. […] What the Minister told the Councillors about land retreat #eqnz #chch […]

    Pingback by will it be this june? ~ #eqnz #planking #nz « Rik Tindall blogs — May 31, 2011 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  32. I guess the main question for me is when will the local infrastructure be repaired and why hasn’t it been given a priority? The CBD can wait as it will take years to get that right but in the mean time people still have to get about and do business. Fitzgerald avenue still hasn’t been repaired and it makes traveling around the cordon extremely time consuming. I’m sure everyone who gets stuck in that bottleneck on a daily basis would very much appreciate a timeline for getting it fixed. Also renting a premises has increased in cost dramatically when will local businesses get some type of temporary buildings to run their businesses out of?

    Comment by Andrew — June 1, 2011 @ 11:29 am | Reply

    • Hi Andrew. I can’t answer your question about Fitzgerald yet, but I will bring your question to the attention of our staff and let’s see what we can do about getting an answer. It may take a little bit of time but I will send that email tonight. With your second question – do you want to drop me an email directly (sue dot wells at ccc dot govt dot nz) – I’d like to get some more information and understand better exactly what you’re asking.

      Comment by Sue Wells — June 1, 2011 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  33. Hi, it is a shame that the news media pubblished an article that included content from your blog. If the media had sought clarification they may heve seen this-
    “In rough terms, it means the quake probability for Christchurch has become similar to many other parts of NZ such as Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Wanganui, and Poverty Bay where quakes are more frequent. The initial driver of this increased activity was the September M7.1 quake. It started an aftershock sequence that will continue for many months, these aftershocks will gradually get less frequent, but there is still a small chance of a larger aftershock for a while yet”

    Please, please refrain from playing scientist, as the way the information has been used has traumatised people. If you must release this kind of information, please do a little research first, or at least seek guidance from people who know, GNS for instance.

    Thanks again for helping to terrorfy many of my friends and family.

    Comment by Peter — June 1, 2011 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

    • Hi Peter. I haven’t “played scientist.” All I have done is repeat information that was given to all the elected members. It is from GNS, and came via Roger Sutton from CERA. I’m sorry that the publication of that information has upset you, and I think some of the media coverage has been extremely sensational to the point that I wonder if they read my blog at all, or just looked to spin what the Press had already covered.
      I hope too that when you and your friends and family have a look at the blog, you’ll find the thrust of it, which is around the process of thinking going into the retreat decisions, is helpful to you.

      Comment by Sue Wells — June 1, 2011 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

      • Fair cooment Sue re the “playing scientist” remark of mine. What was missing from your blog I guess was the narrative that goes along wirh these statistical probabilities.

        Maybe I’m more stressed than I thought 🙂


        Comment by Peter — June 1, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

      • Cheers. I think your comment is entirely fair. Another comment highlighted the need for better attribution and I accept that too. I absolutely agree that everybody is stressed at the moment. It feels a bit like walking on eggshells at times, and I applaud you for acknowledging that.

        Comment by Sue Wells — June 1, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

      • I admit… I was extremely grumpy on Monday getting the comment at breakfast (“….23% chance of a 6-7 EQ in the next year….) with no source given. Guess I am stressed (with no real personal reason to be..). I am also peeved that GNS and others do not give easy access to discussions and opinions. Geonet and GNS were way out of date (up to today).

        Comment by Alister — June 3, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  34. […] Wells “released” figures on her blog regarding the likelihood of another earthquake in the near future (23% chance in Canterbury within the next year, between 6 and 7 on the Richter […]

    Pingback by ChCh Quake Likelihood, Celebrity Tours & Red Zone Gardening — June 5, 2011 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  35. @Alister — June 3, 2011 @ 4:05 pm
    GNS, CCC,Civil Defence and now CERA do not give information to the General Public as the do not want to incite panic for those who are not educated in understanding of the processes that are happening around us in ChristChurch.It is that simple.
    Not even Sue Wells and her fellow councillors are privy to the information that I have dealt with in the last four months.
    The ONLY reason for the press release the other day warning about future events in Christchurch are from the outcome in the Italian courts about their advisory bodies being culpable for not warning people about events there.
    This has set a legal and responsibility precedence,in which the GNS, CCC,Civil Defence and now CERA are liable for, and can be sued for in huge civil claims actions.
    I think it best if people did educate themselves to the environment in which they chose to live and be aware of what is occuring now and in the future.
    Responsible recycling of damaged buildings is a good start. A far better idea rather than smashing everything and allowing asbestos fibres and other contaminants to be released into the air where we will have to deal with cases of asbestos related illnesses from the unprotected demolition crews who have been breathing all this in in the last 4 months.
    There unfortunately has been no correct air quality control monitoring(from my sources) or a proper environmental impact study (E.I.S) done either.
    Too many demolition companies are too intent on riding around in their nice shiny new utes and cars, and smashing things in their nice shiny new excavators , trucks and other equipment we see around town now.
    That is were our money is going, thankyou Fletchers ,Frews and Southern Demolition.
    Oh and also thankyou to those in charge for employing people with little structural and civil engineering knowledge to be building inspectors contracted to you and getting paid $60/hr and you charging double that to the EQC.
    I am tired of the b/s from the arts centre etc.

    Comment by Don Leon — June 5, 2011 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  36. check out this article from QLd about a land swap deal to move people affected by the Qld floods. Planned retreat in action, but I’m not clear on the land swap economics involved, check out this link, I’ll do some more research:

    Comment by Stephen Timms — June 8, 2011 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  37. Quote: There is a chance of over 90% that we will have another shake between 5 and 6 in the next twelve months…

    And we get a 5.5 event within the next two weeks, Queens Birthday. Just a little too soon I would speculate to be giving much confidence to the quoted probabilities, and by inference the modelling by which these probabilities have been deduced.

    However even though the modelling is hidden from view anyone with a bent to probability calculations, or has a statistics text on hand, should now be able to calculate the likelihood of a similar event in the 5-6 range occurring over the remaining period of those 12 months. This would therefore yield us with an explicit measure of the validity of the modelling assumptions, as the forward seismic activity plays out for the Canterbury/Christchurch region.

    No further 5-6 activity, and the modelling would be looking pretty good, increasing 5-6 activity however and the modelling would be looking increasingly bad.

    Or, for the less mathematically endowed, the lesson would be that any further 5-6 activity must begin to seriously question the validity of the GNS modelling and its associated predictions of probability

    Comment by stephen bryson — June 12, 2011 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

    • Thinking it through a little further, here is one possibility for how that 90% probability was calculated:

      Firstly, we need to assume that the 90% lilelihood of a 5-6 event occurring during the next 12 months, as stated by Sue above, should have been in fact more correctly stated as being the 90% probability of at least one 5-6 event occurring during the next 12 months.

      Then, one approach that will yield the 90% or thereabouts probability would be to have a model of future earthquake activity for Christchurch/Canterbury that says we are looking at :

      1/ the possibility of one 5-6 event occurring on average every 3 months over the coming 12 months, and

      2/ we assign a likelihood of about 40% to the occurrence of each such event.

      Therefore, the numbers readily follow that the probability that no one [none] of these earthquakes will occur is:

      0.6 * 0.6 * 0.6 * 0.6 = 0.1296 [0.13]

      Ahd therefore the probability that at least one of these earthquakes will occur over the next 12 months becomes:

      1.0 – 0.13 = 0.87 [87%]

      Thus approximately a 90% likelihood of there being at least one event 5-6 ocurring during the next 12 months, viz as Sue seems to have reported.

      The current count is now 3 events 5-6, with about 3-4 weeks gone, 11 months to go and one more event to come .

      In summary, at this particular point in time it’s probably not looking too good for this particular model.

      Comment by stephen bryson — June 14, 2011 @ 11:45 am | Reply

      • By now we have had a fourth event. Therefore it is increasingly obvious to the general intellect that this GNS calculation of 90% or thereabouts must be seriously astray in its assumed model of the current seismic activity.

        However, for completeness of this thread, here is the link to the Mark Quigley site which offers a fuller description of the essence of the underlying theory by which GNS would have undertaken their calculation:

        Quote: Omori’s Law for aftershocks, … states that the rate of aftershocks is proportional to the inverse of time since the mainshock. Thus, depending on the values of parameters specific to certain regions, whatever the odds of an aftershock are on the first day, the second day will have approximately 1/2 the odds of the first day ….[the third day 1/3, the fourth day 1/4 etc, etc]

        So applying Omori’s law for four successive three month periods, and repeating the calculation process above we find that GNS would have needed to adopt 75% as the probability of the 5-6 aftershock in the first three months, if to yield that “90% probability of at least one 5-6 event in within 12 months”.

        Or, if we repeat the calculation process for just single month durations, we find that the probability of aftershock in the first month has to be 60%, and 30% in the second month, 15% in the third month, etc., etc, to yield the same 90% outcome.

        This is wholly consistent with the GNS site which actually stated:

        “The expected number of aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 and above for the next month is 0-2, with an expected average of <1”. [Our number is 60% or 0.6, which is < 1.]

        Comment by stephen bryson — June 19, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  38. […] right of the media or Cr Sue Wells who first blogged the forecast to make such information public.…. (Sue had been given it at a Government briefing last week and checked if it was ok to make public. […]

    Pingback by Brendon Burns Update « St Albans Community Centre — June 15, 2011 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  39. Sorry there is an error in the third to last paragraph.

    The “15% in the third month” should have been 20%, or writing more fully:

    Month 1: 60%,
    Month 2: 30%
    Month 3: 20%
    Month 4: 15%
    Month 5: 12%
    Month 6: 10%

    Month 8: 7.5%

    Month 10: 6%

    Month 12: 5%.

    Comment by stephen bryson — June 19, 2011 @ 11:20 am | Reply

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