Earthquake: Christchurch 2011

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The Cathedral in Cathedral Square lost it's spire.
This learning resource is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It is being developed by teachers, students and scientists with a goal of improving our understanding of such terrible natural disasters so that we can, hopefully, avoid such suffering in the future.

News of the Quake

Read news of other earthquakes around the world.

Dr Hamish Campell, GNS Scientist, writes for the NZ Herald 

Dr David Rothery of the Open University faces the camera to explain the science on 22nd February 2011'

TVNZ video and photo updates

Scientists try to unravel lethal quake Dominion Post, 24th Feb 2011

Your questions, your inquiry

Natural disasters such as earthquakes leave us with many, many questions. Some of them are about science, others are about choices, beliefs, and the meaning of life. Science is limited to the study of what can be measured and examined in the physical world.

This learning resource is focused on supporting students affected by the 2011 earthquake who have science-related questions. It is aimed at students aged 13-17 years.

New Zealand students and teachers can also use Ask an Expert where Shelley Hersey is answering student questions.


Some questions have simple answers:

  • When did the earthquake happen?
  • How far below the ground did the shake begin?

They often lead on to more complicated, rich questions:

  • What caused the earthquake happen when it did?
  • How do people work out where the earthquake begins?

A good inquiry involves a rich question. There isn't any single, simple answer. You need to get information from different places and put it together to work out your answer. 

This Wikieducator resource is designed to help you carry out an inquiry, based around the Christchurch earthquake. 

Move to the questions page and decide the focus for your inquiry.
Learn some background science about earthquakes.


NZ students who are studying for NCEA may submit their work for assessment and gain NCEA credits. Students who are enrolled at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School) should be in contact with their science teacher or learning advisor to discuss this. An example assessment task can be found on the NZQA website HERE

Supervisor Guide and Teaching Resouces

Information for supervisors and teachers.