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Scott statue replica passes quake test

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

Robert Falcon Scott's statue in Christchurch, New Zealand. © Shutterstock Robert Falcon Scott's statue in Christchurch, New Zealand. British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott's statue in Christchurch should be able to withstand a one-in-2500-year earthquake when it's restored.

The 2.5-tonne, 2.6-metre statue snapped at its weakest point, the ankles, when it was toppled from its plinth during the devastating February 2011 quake.

With 2017 being 100 years since the work was unveiled, Christchurch City Council is hopeful of having it back on its original stone base in September, when the next Antarctic season starts.

However, council head of parks Andrew Rutledge says the repair is tricky because the break is uneven.

The decision has been made to drill into the statue's legs and plinth, and thread carbon fibre rods through to improve resilience.

But the technique needed testing, so sculptor Mark Whyte was called in to carve a replica leg, also in Carrara marble.

He matched the angle of the break and used the repair technique planned for the actual statue, and then watched to see how much force it could take.

"It's not often that I carve something just for someone to break," he said.

Consultant engineer Grant Wilkinson said the testing this week met all expectations.

The design target was to withstand a 1.5-tone load, which correlated to a one-in-1000-year earthquake.

"It didn't collapse until we got to a three-tonne loading and that's fantastic," he says.

"A three-tonne loading approximately equates to a one in 2500-year event, and we got well past that."

The statue is a memorial to Scott and those who died with him on their return from the South Pole in 1912, having been beaten by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition in the race to the be first to the pole.

Sculpted by Scott's widow, Kathleen Scott, it has come to symbolise Christchurch's links to Antarctica.

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