How the Canterbury Earthquakes changed the course of my life

How the Canterbury Earthquakes changed the course of my life

By Natural Hazard Geo-spatialist, Morgan Lindsay

Looking back ten years on, I remember, like most Cantabrians, the morning of September 4th quite vividly. I was 15 at the time and remember my family of four, plus the dog, all huddling into one small doorway in the early hours of the morning, not knowing what we were going to find after the shaking stopped. As you can tell from the photo below, my house suffered quite extensive damage (it was stuffed!), mostly due to liquefaction. We had ground cracking, and subsidence which at the time we measured by rolling a bottle of wine from one end of the kitchen to the other! We didn’t spend another night in this house and it was later red zoned and demolished.

Like the rest of Canterbury the Canterbury earthquake sequence had a huge impact on me and my family and I will be open and say that I didn’t cope very well, especially after the February event. A family friend of ours is a geologist, who’s knowledge at the time was very comforting for me. He would tell us the facts (instead of the scare mongering information the media would often tell) and I soon became very intrigued with what he had to say and what he did as a job. So when it came to deciding what I wanted to do when I left school I drew on the fact that I hadn’t coped well during the quakes and the interest and intrigue I found when listening to our family friend and decided that I wanted to learn more about these quakes so I could have a sense of control (in the form of knowledge in this case). I went on to finish my Bachelors in Geology and Geography in 2015 which only grew my passion for natural hazards and disaster risk so I followed it up with a Masters in Disaster Risk and Resilience in 2017. So in a way I am grateful for the earthquakes, because without them I wouldn’t be in this amazing job where I work with our clients and the community to build resilience. I hope that my work might help to prevent the destruction that happened to Canterbury from ever happening again.