Home' Greymouth Star : November 28th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, November 28, 2013
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uLetters to the editor
1520 - Portuguese navigator Ferdinand
Magellan reaches Paci c Ocean from the
Atlantic after passing through a South
American Strait now bearing his name.
1905 - Sinn Fein Party is founded
in Dublin, Ireland.
1916 - German planes make their
rst raid on London, already subject
to Zeppelin bombardments.
1919 - Lady Astor is elected
rst woman member of Britain's
1942 - Almost 500 people perish in re that
destroys Coconut Grove nightclub in Boston,
1948 - First GM Holden goes on sale in
Australia for £760.
1977 - Rhodesia announces 1200 have been
killed in its recent raids against black nationalist
guerrillas across the border in Mozambique.
1991 - Libyan leader Muammar Gadda says
he will not surrender two Libyans accused of
bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Gary Hart, former US senator and
presidential candidate (1936-); Randy
Newman, US singer (1943-); Ed
Harris, US actor (1950-); John
Galliano, British fashion designer
(1960-); Martin Clunes, British
actor (1961-); Jon Stewart, US
comedian-actor (1962-); Anna
Nicole Smith, American television
personality (1967-2007); Ryan
Kwanten, Australian actor (1976-).
"No man can be a patriot on an empty
stomach." --- William Cowper, English poet
"Let the little children come to Me, and do
not stop them; for it is to such as these that the
Kingdom of Heaven belongs."
--- (Matthew 19:14).
Greymouth boy, now a
pupil of Shirley Boys'
High School, John
Stanton, 17, a sergeant in the Christchurch
Boys' Brigade, will leave on Sunday aboard
HMNZS Endeavour for Antarctica.
John, a grandson of Mr F H Stanton,
Ngarimu Street, Greymouth, was selected to
represent the brigade by the superintendent of
the Antarctic division of the DSIR and deputy
of Scott Base.
And it was learned that another Greymouth
lad will be on the Endeavour when she leaves
Lyttelton on Tuesday. He is Greymouth scout
Gary Hopkinson, of Karoro.
No functions are planned in Greymouth
to mark the centenary of railways in
New Zealand. e chief stationmaster at
Greymouth, Mr J White, said this morning
that the bulk of the celebrations would be held
He said there would be no department
representatives from Greymouth at the
celebrations in Christchurch to mark the
centenary of the opening of the rst public
railway in New Zealand to be operated by
Pupils of the Grey Main School have won
both Seddon Memorial Medals for 1963.
e top education award has gone to Helen
Stephanie Tucker, who has also won this year's
McBrearty Memorial Prize.
Aged 12 and a half and the twin child of Mr
and Mrs D J Tucker, of of Kilgour Road, Helen
has received all her primary education at Grey
e Seddon medal winner in the boys' section
is John Leslie Straker, son of Mr and Mrs J T
Straker, High Street, aged 12 years, 11 months.
John has also been a Grey Main pupil since
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
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Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Healy s view
Across most of Earth, a
tourist attraction that
attracts 35,000 visitors a
year can safely be labelled
sleepy. But when it is
Antarctica, every footstep
Tourism has taken o again, and it is not
just retirees watching penguins from the
deck of a ship. Visitors are taking tours
inland and even engaging in "adventure
tourism", skydiving and scuba diving.
In this remote, frozen land, tourism
comes with risks, for both the continent
and the tourists. Boats pollute water and
air, and create the potential for more
devastating environmental damage. When
something goes wrong, help can be a long
way o .
e downturn triggered by the economic
meltdown created an opportunity for
the 50 countries that share responsibility
through the Antarctic Treaty to set
rules to manage tourism, but little has
been done. An international committee
on Antarctica has produced just two
mandatory rules, and neither of those is
yet in force.
"I think there has been a foot o the
pedal in recent years," Alan Hemmings,
an environmental consultant on polar
Antarctic tourism grew from fewer than
2000 visitors a year in the 1980s to more
than 46,000 in 2007-08. e numbers
fell to fewer than 27,000 in 2011-12, but
the US-based International Association
of Antarctic Tour Operators estimates
close to 35,000 people visited during
Antarctica's 2012-2013 tourist season. It
expects slightly more tourists this season,
which runs from November through
It is not just the numbers of tourists
but the activities that are changing,
says Hemmings, who has been part of a
delegation representing New Zealand in
some Antarctic Treaty discussions.
Today's tourism is "much more action
orientated", he says. "Now people want
to go paragliding, waterskiing, diving or a
variety of other things."
Visitors can also skydive over the frigid
landscape, and London-based Henry
Cookson Adventures takes two-and
three-man submarines to Antarctica.
Hemmings was once asked to advise
on a Germany company's plan to y
gliders over the colossal Transantarctic
Mountains to the South Pole, but that
project was never carried out.
On Ross Island, a stark black-and-white
outcrop of ice on porous, volcanic rock,
the active volcano Mt Erebus stands as
a warning of the dangers of tourism in
this environment. In 1979, an Air New
Zealand plane on a sightseeing tour from
Auckland slammed into the mountain,
killing all 257 people aboard.
Some of the earliest attempts at
skydiving in Antarctica also ended in
tragedy. Two Americans and an Austrian
died in the same jump in 1997 near the
United States Amundsen-Scott South
Pole Station at the geographic South Pole.
Antarctica is not only the world's
coldest, driest and windiest continent, but
also the highest. e South Pole is on an
icy plateau 2835m above sea level and the
air is thin.
is is a land of many hazards, not all
of them obvious. e dry air makes static
electricity a constant threat to electronics
and a re risk when refuelling vehicles.
While Antarctica is as big as the United
States and Mexico combined, tourists and
scientists mostly keep to areas that are not
permanently frozen and where wildlife
can be found. ose account for less than
2% of the continent.
Hemmings says tourist ships have been
involved in several mishaps in Antarctica
in the past ve years.
Most tourists arrive on the Antarctic
Peninsula, easily accessible from
Argentina and Chile. e next most
popular destination is the Ross Sea on the
opposite side of the continent, a 10-day
sail from New Zealand or Australia.
Both landscapes are intensely bright
and silent during the 17 weeks between
sunrise and sunset in the summer. e
peninsula is a milder environment and has
a wider variety of fauna and ora.
Two cruise ships visited the sea's Ross
Island, connected to the continent by
ice, last summer. Summer temperatures
average -6 degC but often seem colder
due to wind chill.
Passengers visited the sprawling
US McMurdo Station, which can
accommodate more than 1200 people, as
well as New Zealand's neighbouring Scott
Base, which sleeps fewer than 90. Many
also visited a nearby drafty hut, built by
doomed British explorer Captain Robert
Falcon Scott in 1902 as an expedition
e two bases, separated by a 3km ice
road, do not facilitate tourism, but tourists
are generally welcomed. Both have well-
stocked gift shops.
Antarctic New Zealand's environment
manager Neil Gilbert says more robust
monitoring is needed to track tourism's
" e Antarctic Peninsula ... is one of,
if not the most rapidly warming part of
the globe," Gilbert says. "We really don't
know what additional impact that those
tourism numbers ... are having on what
is already a very signi cantly changing
ere are fears that habitat will be
trampled, and that tourists will introduce
exotic species or microbes.
Another fear is that a cruise ship
carrying thousands of passengers will run
into trouble in these ice-clogged, storm-
prone and poorly charted waters, creating
an environmentally disastrous oil spill and
a rescue crisis.
To reduce the risk of spills, the
United Nations' shipping agency, the
International Maritime Organisation,
barred the use of heavy fuel oil below 60
degrees latitude south in 2011.
e fuel-oil ban is a rare thing for
Antarctic tourism: a binding rule.
e 28 countries that comprise
the Antarctic Treaty Consultative
Committee have made 27 non-binding
recommendations on tourism since 1966,
but just two mandatory rules --- and
neither of those is yet in force.
A 2004 agreement requiring tourism
operators to be insured to cover possible
rescue operations or medical evacuations
has been rati ed by only 11 of the 28
countries. A 2009 agreement barring
ships carrying more than 500 passengers
from landing tourists --- a measure to
protect trampled sites --- has the legal
backing of just two countries, Japan and
e United States, by far the biggest
source of tourists and tourism operators,
has not signed either measure.
e International Maritime
Organisation intends to enforce a Polar
Code, detailing safety standards for ships
entering both the Arctic and Antarctic
regions. It was supposed to be force by
2013, but the IMO now says it won't be
adopted before 2014, and after that it will
take another 18 months for the code to be
Hemmings says the lack of standards
is a problem because increasing numbers
of cruise ships are negotiating the poorly
charted and storm-prone seas without
ice-strengthened hulls as Antarctic legs
are added to South American, South
Paci c and around-the-world cruises.
Steve Wellmeier, administrative
director of the International Association
of Antarctic Tour Operators, says the
impending rules could force some vessels
out of the region. In any case, he does
not think tourism there will return to its
explosive growth pre-GFC rates, simply
because the ships are not available.
Tourists far outnumber the scientists
and support sta at scienti c research
stations in Antarctica during summer, but
the researchers make more of an impact
because they stay longer. e summer
population at the 39 stations across the
continent peaked at about 4400 in the
Wellmeier believes tourists should
not be considered separately from the
question of overall human impact on the
Antarctic environment. He says too often
it is research-station personnel who out
the rules: "We hear horror stories every
e US has been criticised on
environmental grounds for building a
1600km ice road from McMurdo Station
to the South Pole on which tractors
drag fuel and supplies on sleds. e road
provides a more reliable alternative to
frequently grounded air services.
Australia-based adventurer Tim Jarvis
sees Antarctic tourists not as a problem,
but as part of the solution for a frozen
continent where the ice is rapidly
retreating. If more tourists see its wonders
and the impacts of climate change,
particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula,
Jarvis says, the world will become more
inclined to protect the continent.
"It's a pity we live in a world that's a
little bit overregulated in many respects,"
he says of the prospect of greater controls
Jarvis led a party of six in January and
February on a 19-day re-enactment of
British explorer Ernest Shackleton's
desperate sea and land journey to a South
Georgia Island whaling station in the
southern Atlantic Ocean in 1916.
Jarvis and his party spent more than a
year applying for ve permits from various
treaty countries and did detailed risk
assessments and environmental impact
statements. ey paid for their own back-
up boat to rescue them in case anything
"My broader message to people is that
we all have the potential to do far more
in our lives than we feel we're capable of
doing and we should go and explore that
... but do it responsibly," Jarvis says.
Antarctica tourism fears
Canterbury's unique geological
setting has led scientists to
believe the earthquake sequence
it has experienced could likely
not happen anywhere else in the
New research published
in Nature Geoscience this
week challenges the common
assumption that the strength of
the Earth's crust is constant by
demonstrating that energetic
quakes, such as those in
Canterbury, can cause widespread
weakening of the crust.
GNS scientists had previously
considered the heavy ground
acceleration recorded at the time
of the 7.1 Dar eld Earthquake
in September 2010 --- the result
of strike-slip faulting within the
Paci c Plate, near the eastern
foothills of the Southern Alps ---
as extremely rare.
e force of the February 22,
2011 quake, which killed 185
people but was considered an
aftershock, was so great it was
considered statistically unlikely
to happen more than once in a
millennium, and far exceeded
the loading extremes that New
Zealand buildings were designed
Our codes require buildings to
have a 50-year design loads to
withstand the loads of a 500-year
event, but early reports indicated
that the ground motion that
afternoon was beyond even 2500-
Scientists, led by seismologist
Martin Reyners of GNS Science,
had initially set out to determine
the three-dimensional structure
of the crust under Canterbury by
using a technique called seismic
tomography --- similar to a
medical CAT scan.
is helped to get more accurate
aftershock locations, to better
de ne the many smaller faults
Instead, they found that
rock properties had changed
signi cantly over a wide area
around the Greendale Fault,
which ruptured on September 4,
2010 producing a magnitude 7.1
" is nding was entirely
unexpected, but it explains why
the main shock released so much
energy," Dr Reyners said.
Previously, scientists had
assumed that the strength of the
Earth's crust remains constant
during an aftershock sequence.
e Canterbury quakes had
their genesis 100 million years ago
when very strong rocks became
emplaced under Canterbury.
"It is important to realise that
the Canterbury earthquake
sequence was very unusual, with
energetic earthquakes producing
some of the strongest vertical
ground accelerations ever seen in
" is is a result of the unusual
rock structure of the region. ere
will be few other places in the
world where a similar earthquake
sequence might occur."
Most of the quakes in the two-
year-long Canterbury sequence
released abnormally high levels of
energy; this was consistent with
the ruptures occurring on very
strong faults that store energy
slowly and gradually and are hard
Dr Reyners said post-quake
analysis such as this research
was important as it helps to
understand how strain builds up
in the crust and how it is released
"But to do that accurately, we
need to understand the types of
rocks that exist at depth. Strong
rocks store and release strain
di erently to weak rocks."
e research involved analysing
the seismic waves produced by
11,500 aftershocks in Canterbury.
is enabled the team to build
a 3D picture of rock structure to
a depth of about 35km below the
Normally rocks become hot and
'plastic' at depths of about 10km.
However, the researchers
found that strong, brittle rocks
continued to a depth of about
30km under Canterbury.
is unusually thick and dense
slab of rock helps to explain the
long and energetic aftershock
sequence in Canterbury.
Seismic energy would have
dissipated more quickly in weaker
e researchers are continuing
their work and are now focussed
on determining how widespread
this strong rock unit is in the
lower half of the South Island.
" is is important for de ning
the earthquake hazard for people
living between mid-Canterbury
--- New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: Getty Images
A man stands in remains of a building on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch.
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