Earthquakes part of life in NZ - GNS

By NZPA

 Earthquakes are a part of life in New Zealand, and false predictions only serve to cause extra worry for Cantabrians, says a GNS scientist.
Duty seismologist Caroline Holden, of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), told NZPA the predictions by ``Moon Man'' Ken Ring of another big earthquake on Sunday had no foundation.
``Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the science community would reaffirm there is no basis for the correlation between large earthquake occurrence and lunar cycles,'' Ms Holden said.
``It is unfortunate that the people of Christchurch were further upset by counterproductive predictions when a much more useful message would be `to be prepared'.
``New Zealand has been, and always will be, a country where earthquakes are a part of life,'' Ms Holden added.
A significant number of Christchurch residents left the city at weekend after weather forecaster Ken Ring, who bases his theories on the tides and the moon, predicted another big earthquake to hit yesterday in Canterbury or Marlborough.
Mr Ring made his first seismic predictions on his predictweather.com website on September 7 -- three days after Canterbury's first big earthquake, a magnitude 7.1 .
He wrote ``the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South Island again in a big earthquake risk''.
At 9.44am the moon would be at its closest point to earth for 2011, Mr Ring said.
``All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.''
A full house of about 45 people, including geologists, teachers, health professionals, parents and politicians, attended the New Zealand Skeptics ``non event'' lunch yesterday at the Sign of the Kiwi tearooms in Christchurch.
Environment Minister and geotechnical engineer Nick Smith, who attended the lunch, said it was ``reckless and irresponsible'' for people like Mr Ring to speculate on the timing of future major earthquakes with no scientific basis.
``Cantabrians have been through enough trauma without charlatans preying on people's natural fears,'' he said.
Survival rates from earthquakes had greatly improved.

About one in 100 people died in the Napier and Hastings earthquake in 1931. In Christchurch about one in 2000 people died in last month's quake.
``We can continue to reduce the risks and save more lives but, as the tragic events in Japan have shown, we can never eliminate all loss of life from major earthquakes,'' he said.
``Scaremongering'' from people like Mr Ring played no part in reducing that risk, instead the key was to invest in scientists and engineers to improve knowledge of earthquakes and buildings so they could better withstand them, Dr Smith said.
Aftershocks would continue to hit the region but nobody could predict exactly when an earthquake would strike, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser said last week.
``Inevitably there would almost certainly be aftershocks of low magnitude in Canterbury on March 20 as there are today, tomorrow, and most days over the next two weeks,'' Sir Peter Gluckman said.
Three aftershocks, one a strong 5.1 magnitude, rattled quake-weary residents of Christchurch late last night.
Christchurch was ravaged by a 6.3 earthquake on February 22 which killed an estimated 182 people and has experienced many aftershocks in the month since then.
But three tremors rolled across the city in quick succession last night, one of 3.0 at 9.43pm. the second of 5.1 four minutes later and the third of 2.9.
The second and third shocks were in almost exactly the same location -- 10km east of the city and 10km and llkm deep.
Many aftershocks have been recorded since the ``big one'' of February 22.
Mr Ring did not return calls from NZPA.
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- Hawkes Bay Today

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