Dunedin "100% Likely" to Suffer Catastrophic Earthquake by 2012

Dunedin "100% Likely" to Suffer Catastrophic Earthquake by 2012

Headline is blatant lie. Fear sells.

The University is spending $50m to upgrade its buildings over the next seven years, in order to reduce the buildings’ vulnerability to earthquakes.

A top-secret forum, off-limits to students and the media, was held last Tuesday March 6 in the College of Education Auditorium, in order to discuss plans for assessing and strengthening University buildings. Due to the forbidden fruit effect, Critic’s interest was high. Unfortunately an attempt by Editor Joe Stockman to sneak in disguised as the Vice-Chancellor did not succeed.

An initial assessment of 80 buildings has already been carried out, and seven buildings have so far undergone more detailed assessments: Cumberland College, the Lindo Ferguson Building, the Scott Building, Staff Club, the Arts Building (a.k.a. Burns), Geology (a.k.a. Quad) and the Clocktower Building.

The Scott Building was deemed to be “earthquake-prone”, and will be prioritised for strengthening. The Clocktower’s assessment is not yet complete, but the building is deemed “not likely to be earthquake-prone”.

However, the University has its own set of “seismic guidelines”, which demand a higher standard than that required by the Building Act 2004, and thus several of the buildings will be upgraded anyway. The work will be scheduled during university holidays to minimise disruption to students.

The Social Darwinist Society has expressed its disappointment that Cumberland College was upgraded over the summer and is no longer considered “earthquake-prone”. The Society was further disheartened to hear that the College will receive further upgrades over the next two years to reduce the risk to the future leaders of our society.

The next eight buildings in line for a detailed assessment are Arana College, Carrington College, Zoology Building, School of Surveying Building, Property Services Building, Marama Hall, Archway Buildings and the Professorial Houses by the Leith. Critic can only imagine the chaos that would occur in Archway in the event of an earthquake, given that trained explorers have starved to death while trying to find a way out of its labyrinthine passages.

The Alpine Fault is the fault line closest to Dunedin, but is far enough away that a 2009 earthquake that measured at magnitude 7.8 at its source in the alps did no damage to Dunedin, although the city moved 10 millimetres to the west during the quake.

Critic considered following the tradition of Wellington’s Dominion Post, which responds to slow news days by manufacturing fear-mongering stories about earthquakes. The tried-and-true method involves talking to a Professor of Geology and asking him/her whether there is even a remote possibility of a catastrophic earthquake occurring in the next few years. The Professor will inevitably answer that there is always at least a small possibility. The headline will be along the lines of “WELLINGTON AT RISK OF CATASTROPHIC EARTHQUAKE – DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR”.

Critic is too classy to resort to such tactics in order to sell magazines. Especially because we give them away for free.
This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2012.
Posted 6:37pm Sunday 11th March 2012 by Callum Fredric.