New Zealand gets lots of earthquakes every year. Some earthquakes are very strong. Scientists study earthquakes to keep us and our important buildings safe.
Point of interest
The black and white photographs of the Napier earthquake show Napier Hospital patients being evacuated to the Botanical Gardens. Engineers now build hospitals that are able to withstand earthquakes.
New Zealand gets about 14,000 earthquakes every year. Most earthquakes are too small for us to feel, but sometimes they are large enough to damage buildings.
An earthquake damaged buildings in Napier and Hastings in 1931.
Many buildings were also damaged in Christchurch in 2011. Seddon, at the top of the South Island, also suffered significant damage during earthquakes in 2013.
Scientists study earthquakes because they want to know more about their causes and predict where they are likely to happen.
They also need to know how the ground moves during earthquakes. This information helps scientists and engineers build safer buildings – especially important buildings in an emergency, like hospitals and government buildings.
Historic images courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Buildings ruined by the 1931 earthquake, Napier. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888–1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-048343-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22891601
Ruins of the nurses’ home, Napier, after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake. Creator unknown: Photographs of Napier and Hastings after the 1931 earthquake. Ref: 1/4-017193-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22520125
Napier earthquake: Evacuating the Napier Hospital. Williams family: Photographs relating to the Williams family. Ref: 1/2-029566-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23250164
Napier Hospital patients in the botanical gardens, after the 1931 earthquake. Ref: 1/2-060975-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22683148
Footage from Christchurch earthquake (2011) courtesy of Logan McMillian, Gorilla Pictures
Footage from Seddon earthquake (2013) courtesy of Tim Struthers
Photo of Dr Laura Wallace, by Kate Clark, GNS
Professor Stefano Pampanin, Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury
Alistair Cattanach, Dunning Thornton Consultants Ltd
Professor David Prior, Department of Geology, University of Otago
Dr Virginia Toy, Department of Geology, University of Otago