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Geo 'rockstar' Dr Quigley packs out ChCh Town Hall

Published: 9:16PM Tuesday November 02, 2010 Source: ONE News

A geologist who has become something of a "geological rock star" in Canterbury following the earthquake on September 4, has spoken to a packed town hall in Christchurch tonight.

Dr Mark Quigley's insights into the quake have been very popular over the past few months. He has given nine public lectures and tonight was the second one entitled "The 2010 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake: what happened and what's next?"

The Canterbury University lecturer told the thousand-strong crowd he was beginning to feel a bit like a "D-grade celebrity" with people looking at him in the streets.

"But I'm not like Shortland Street or anything like that."

He told the audience that people who'd been worried about an alpine fault rupture in the past, would and should probably still be worried. The alpine fault is not the fault that cause the Darfield quake.

"I think your own personal perceived risk of the alpine fault... the experts were saying before this it was 15-40% probability of a rupture... will probably be the same after this quake."

Spectators told ONE News after the lecture that they had gone along to hear Quigley speak to quell fears and be informed.

One of those who was interested was a North Islander who didn't even live in Canterbury.

"I've always been interested in geology and I thought this was a great opportunity to improve my knowledge about what actually happens during these quakes," the visitor said.

Another said he disagreed that Quigley was a quake rockstar.

"He's actually very sensible and his feet firmly on the ground," the man said.

The woman he was with said she came to the geology lecture to find out why the quake happened.

"I just want to understand it more, to find out what happened and why it happened. You know they haven't found a fault line for 1600 years... so it was good, lots of answers."

Quigley himself said he was surprised at the numbers of people attending but it was kind of a "golden age" following the quake.

"New Zealanders are curious about their environment though, so I guess we shouldn't really be surprised so much," Quigley told ONE News .

"I'm living here with the earthquake right in my backyard. It's influencing all aspects of my life and has become a really personal story as well," he said.

Quigley says the goal is to get the message across to the public.

"I've said several times people are scared of the unknown. When they don't understand the process it becomes really scary and foreign and the main thing for me is trying to make a difference in people's lives and trying to alleviate fears.

"Every time I get an email from someone who says 'you know, finally I'm sleeping' or 'your lecture really helped me understand this and I feel much better about things and I can explain the message to my kids... we rarely get a chance in our careers to have that sort of impact.

"It makes all those hard yards out in the middle of the desert really worthwhile because it's now a message that can actually make a difference."

Quigley said he hoped people would go home from tonight's lecture being able to sleep a bit easier.

"There are some messages in the lecture in relation to what people are scared about, aftershocks, alpine fault, these sort of things. Yes I think it will make a difference for some people."

Quigley said the great thing about the lectures, TV and radio is that scientists get to explain things to the mass market, rather than just have their findings looked at by a few hundred of their peers.

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