PM's science adviser rubbishes Christchurch quake claim

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:20 16/03/2011
Hamish Coleman-Ross

Prime Minister's chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, has slammed predictions of a earthquake in Christchurch on March 20th and given a positive view of the future. By Hamish Coleman-Ross.

Sir Peter Gluckman
CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post
NOT IMPRESSED: Sir Peter Gluckman, the PM's chief science adviser, says claims of huge quake on March 20 are far from helpful.

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The Prime Minister's chief science adviser has slammed the prediction of a huge earthquake for Christchurch this Sunday.

'Moon man' Ken Ring caused nationwide controversy earlier this month when he predicted a massive quake would happen on March 20.

Sir Peter Gluckman, speaking at a press conference about the science response to the Canterbury quake, today said the claims were only causing further "disharmony" for the city's residents.

"There is no added risk on March 20 or any other day," Gluckman said.

"The pattern of aftershocks of low magnitude will continue on March 20 and most days for the next two weeks."

Sir Peter, who spoke firmly and pointedly about the matter, wanted to reassure the public that the aftershock pattern scientists agreed on was that the quakes would continue to decline in frequency and intensity.

He admitted the aftershock decline could be erratic which was "somewhat frustrating for all concerned".

There was no scientific controversy around the earthquakes, although there was "academic discussion" on the topic and would be for some years, he said.

Sir Peter also assured the public that despite the massive 9.0 magnitude quake in Japan this month, globally, earthquakes were not increasing in frequency.

Worldwide, there was one magnitude 8 quake each year, and one magnitude 7 every three weeks.

In New Zealand, there were two magnitude 6 quakes each year and a magnitude 5 every two weeks. Smaller earthquakes were a daily occurrence.

To back up his point, he pointed out that Christchurch had suffered many earthquakes before, and that the spire of the cathedral had fallen off four times in the last 130 years.

There had been no change in that pattern and there was no relation between the Japanese and Christchurch earthquakes.

The panel of experts brought together by Sir Peter will release its first paper on the earthquakes later today.

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