Scientists' positive spin on fault lines little comfort

Last updated 05:00 22/06/2012

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United States research showing that some faults under Canterbury may not rupture and generate earthquakes received a mixed reaction from press.co.nz readers yesterday.

Scientists looking at 21 months of seismic movement, including the September 2010 and February, June and December 2011 quakes, said the direction of the stress field across the region had not changed as a result of all that activity.

Pennsylvania State University seismologist Professor Kevin Furlong, who spent several months at Canterbury University during the quakes, said that was a "comforting thing".

A change in stress direction might have meant more faults rupturing.

Mark said on press.co.nz: "I'm a man of science but colour me pessimistic when the field of expertise of seismology is dictated by statements that start with 'We think' and 'Expect' and 'Maybe'."

Maggie's response was: "If you were a man of science you would understand the language of academia is about qualification. Knowing what you don't know is the sign of true wisdom. For all the negative posters here, for goodness sake, this is good news!"

Several were concerned that the "comforting" news might be tempting fate.

"On the face of it good news, but I hope its publication isn't going to put us into a false sense of security," MRT said.

JC in NZ agreed: "Every time someone mentions that things are getting better I get nervous."

And Darla: "Oh no, last time we heard something like this it was followed by another large earthquake. Please don't tempt fate."

Marg said: "Earthquakes are not able to be predicted. But this article from Professor Kevin Furlong gives a good overview of patterning of past and present EQs. We fear most that which we don't understand."

Paul said: "What I don't get is that people get annoyed when they don't get any information, and when they do get information [they] instantly rubbish it."

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- The Press

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