Risk of another big quake declining - expert

10:13 pm on 21 August 2012

The outlook has improved for earthquake-stressed residents of Christchurch.

GNS Science says there is now only a 3% chance of a magnitude 6 or above earthquake striking the city in the next year.

Since September 2010 the South Island city has been hit by big earthquakes, including the devastating 6.3 magnitude quake on 22 February last year that caused extensive damage and killed 185 people.

An earthquake expert with GNS Science, Kelvin Berryman, says there is still a small chance of a significant quake in the next year - but the risk is diminishing by the day.

The news was revealed at a disaster preparedness conference in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Dr Berryman says even if a large earthquake hit now, Christchurch would be better prepared because most of the quake-prone buildings have come down.

The focus for scientists and engineers has moved to how to construct or approve buildings so they are better able to withstand earthquakes, he says.

The conference also looked at the positive impact the earthquakes have had on relationships between locals and the refugee community.

Auckland University academic Jay Marlowe told the conference many refugees living in the city now feel like they are more involved in their communities.

Mr Marlowe researched the impact of the quakes on the Bhutanese, Ethiopian and Afghan communities and found that through adversity, Cantabrians have gained a new sense of solidarity with their neighbours, including refugees.