What a long time a week is since the last blog! A 7.1 earthquake hit the Canterbury region at 4.35am on Saturday morning. The epicenter was just over 20 km away from Lincoln University. Despite a lot of damage there was, incredibly, no loss of life. This was due to the time of day it hit, luck and the preparedness of NZ for such quakes. We’re not known as the shaky isles for nothing. However, this was the biggest land centered quake since the 1930s. And what a ride it was. The quake went for over 40 seconds which was long enough to think about exactly how big it was. A terrifying experience. Since Saturday there have been over 300 aftershocks, many over 5.0. Lincoln University has sustained a reasonable amount of damage which has closed the university for at least this week. The Ecology Department is in reasonably good shape.
A couple of staff went into the department a few hours after the initial quake to get generators onto incubators and -80 freezers as there was a loss of power for most of the day. Most labs were surprisingly well off, having tight regulations for earthquakes seems to have worked. Most offices were a mess, monitors down, books all over, windows broken, filing cabinets toppled. I’m pleased we weren’t working on the 4th and 5th floors at the time. We were concerned about the Entomology Research Museum and the priceless collection of insects but the new cabinets (upgraded just over a year ago) did their job. There was some damage to some of the collection not yet put away. The biggest remaining worry is for the wet collection which wasn’t checked. Still overall, ecology seems to have survived and we should be back to work by Monday.