"It's easy for people to become complacent, to forget [the threat of earthquakes]," says Beattie. Especially in a natural setting like Christchurch.
Much of the outlying region of Canterbury Province is pancake-flat, leading many throughout the years to suppose that the threat of a devastating earthquake in the immediate area had receded over the millenniums.
Any cataclysmic earthquake in Canterbury, it used to be said, would radiate out from the Great Alpine Fault in the South Island. Yet the 7.0-magnitude quake on Sept. 4 was far removed from that main zone, and Tuesday's quake farther still.
New Zealand hasn't lacked for initiatives aimed at keeping the geological realities of a shaky country in the public mind. Schoolchildren here are routinely drilled in the art of diving under a desk or hunkering underneath an available doorway. Such activities have gathered pace in the last decade.