It's Wellington's fault


Wellington, earthquake capital of the world

Wellington, capital of New Zealand and home for almost all of my years, is famous for being one of the most windy cities in the world, and also one of the most earthquake prone, situated on the very juncture between the restless Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. Unlike Aucklanders to the north, likely to be woken by a passing truck, or anything greater than a passing breeze, the average Wellingtonian fails to register anything less than the "Big One", as they call it, a magnitude 7 or greater on the Richter scale upheaval expected every one hundred and fifty years, and in the Harbour Capital, now officially overdue.

"Is it the Big One, do you think?", a Wellingtonian will question out loud, during an earthquake.

"No, the roof hasn't come down yet, so we seem to be o.k."

The last major earthquake occurred on 23 January 1855, a kind of Happy Birthday present on the day of the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Wellington, and measured a massive 8.2 on the Richter scale. It is worth noting at this point that the Richter scale, invented as a measure of earthquake magnitude in 1935 by Charles Richter of the California Institute of Technology, is logarithmic, meaning that, and I did look this up, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in measured amplitude, and as an estimate of energy, about 31 times more energy than the preceding whole number value.

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