Christchurch Earthquake Case Study
A case study of an earthquake in a HIC.
What caused the Christchurch earthquake?
The earthquake occurred on New Zealand’s South Island, 10km west of Christchurch, at 12.51pm on 22nd February 2011 and lasted just 10 seconds. Measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale and, at 4.99 km deep, the earthquake was very shallow. The earthquake occurred along a conservative margin between the Pacific Plate and the Australasian Plate. Take a look at the Christchurch earthquake animated map to see the swarm of foreshocks and aftershocks.
What were the effects of the Christchurch earthquake?
The primary effects included:
- Christchurch, New Zealand’s second city, experienced extensive damage
- 185 people were killed
- 3129 people were injured
- 6800 people received minor injuries
- 100,000 properties were damaged and 10,000 were demolished by the earthquake
- $28 billion of damage was caused
- water and sewage pipes were damaged
- the cathedral spire collapsed
- liquefaction destroyed many roads and buildings
The video below shows the effects of the earthquake one minute after it struck.
The secondary effects included:
- 2200 people had to live in temporary housing
- five Rugby World Cup matches were cancelled
- schools were closed for two weeks
- 1/5 of the population migrated from the city
- many businesses were closed for a long time
- two large aftershocks struck Christchurch less than 4 months after the city was devastated
- Economists have suggested that it will take 50 to 100 years for New Zealand’s eocnomy to recover
- 80% of respondents to a post-event survey, stated that their lives had changed significantly since the earthquake
What were the immediate responses to the Christchurch earthquake?
The immediate responses included:
- around $6-7 million of international aid was provided
- The Red Cross and other charities supplied aid workers
- rescue crews from all over the world, including the UK, USA, Taiwan and Australia provided support
- more than 300 Australian police officers flew into Christchurch three days after the earthquake. They were sworn in with New Zealand policing powers and worked alongside New Zealand officers enforcing law and order and reassuring the people of Christchurch
- 30,000 residents were provided with chemical toilets
What were the long-term responses to the Christchurch earthquake?
The long-term responses included:
- the construction of around 10,000 affordable homes
- water and sewage were restored by August 2011
- temporary housing was provided by the New Zealand governement
- Many NGOs provided support including Save the Children
- Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority was created to organise rebuilding the region. It had special powers to change planning laws and regulations.