What's the Plan, Stan? Questions and Answers

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A summary of questions and answers from the Geohazards field trip:

1. Hi there. I know a lot of people brush this idea off and think that it’s a silly question but what if there were potentially a rabies or cordyceps etc. outbreak? Could NZ be in danger or would we be well secured? Thank you, Will - year 6 Opoutere School.

Hi Will. New Zealand is at risk just like any other country from biological hazards. We do have very strict quarantine laws when it comes to incoming goods and conveyances that helps keep the virus or other unwanted pest out of our country but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen (e.g. Queensland Fruit Fly). The risk of biological hazards depends on several factors such as how easily it’s transmitted and how easily it can be treated.

For example, rabies can only be transmitted through saliva (i.e. dog bite) and is easily manageable through injections. If you compare that to an unknown influenza virus which is air-borne and potentially untreatable you have a very different hazard. The type of hazard will determine its management.

So, in summary we are more “secure” than other countries because of our isolation and strict quarantine laws but not completely isolated, it can still happen.

2. If you were by yourself and you ran out of supplies in an emergency, what could you do? 

Kia ora. Look to your neighbours. Try to have more than just what you need so you can share. Also, check on your neighbours. It’s good to have a neighbourhood BBQ that includes talking about what to do in an emergency and who has what.

3. I live on a farm and I have lots of pets like horses, cows, pigs etc. as well as dogs and cats. In a civil defence emergency should I let them out of their cages if I must leave the farm? Ila

Another great question Ila. Experts are thinking hard about this. You should consider the emergency. Usually we do not have to evacuate homes so you can leave animals where they are. If you must evacuate you can take pets to Civil Defence places. Don't let animals free onto roads. Let loose in a paddock where there is water and food like grazing.

4. What causes sinkholes? Lachlan 

Hi Lachlan. There are lots of these around the world. They relate to the geology of the ground or are from the result of old underground mines. Some soil can be washed away underneath. Leaky water pipes can eventually erode under rock. 

5. What is the best thing to do if you are out on a boat and a tsunami or tornado is nearby? Aaron

Kia ora Aaron. Keep your distance from a tornado or a waterspout. In a tsunami, stay away from shore and get into deep ocean if you have enough fuel. If you have time, get ashore and to high ground within half an hour.

6. What should we do if we are in the school hall and there are no tables to go under if there was an earthquake. Is drop and cover enough or are we safer to go outside and find cover? Viola

Hi Viola. Excellent question. You should still Drop Cover and Hold in that situation and in similar places like supermarkets. Get close to the stage. Keep away from glass windows. Or go to center of the hall. You can also get near to big structural beams.

7. How does a scientist see a tsunami coming? Matthew

Hello Matthew. GeoNet has earthquake alerts and NIWA have buoys in the Pacific Ocean that register wave heights in the ocean. There are also tide gauges in places like Fiji Islands. Great Barrier Island tide gauges give Auckland a half hour tsunami warning.

8. Why is lava so hot?

Hi there. Lave comes from the centre of the earth as magma which is super-hot. It can be 1200 - 1400 degrees Celsius. It can cool in 15-20 minutes near the surface but it is still very hot to us. It can also take several months to cool.

9. Hi there. If there is an earthquake can there be a succession of tsunamis?

Kia ora. Yes. The first wave is not always the biggest wave. You can get 8-24 hours of tsunamis caused by aftershocks. There have been 11 tsunamis in Auckland over last 50 years but mostly small.

10. If the largest volcano in New Zealand erupted how big would the ash cloud be? Thanks

Hi there. Taupō is a super volcano that could wipe out civilisation but is hugely unlikely to erupt. The ash cloud would go right around the planet and could partly block the sun.