NZ’s big natural disaster questions get $1m EQC research funding

Posted 01 Feb 2018 by GovtEQC
Posted in EQC , EQR

Would New Zealanders benefit from an earthquake early warning system?  What do emergency managers need to know before evacuating Aucklanders ahead of a volcanic eruption?  Can liquefaction in Blenheim improve national understanding of keeping water, electricity and buildings safer in an earthquake? And what’s happening with the giant Hikurangi undersea fault that stretches from the top of the South Island along the east coast of the North Island?

EQC is funding investigations of these and other critical questions through its 2018 Biennial Grants research programme.

Dr Hugh Cowan, General Manager Resilience, says EQC has awarded $1 million across a total of 16 research projects.

“This $1 million research investment is part of EQC’s annual $16 million of research funding aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters on people and property in New Zealand.

“We live in a country with beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes. This landscape was largely created by geological forces, so we also live with a lot of natural hazard risk. Our research programme is focused on understanding more about New Zealand’s natural hazards, and working out how to reduce the impact on New Zealanders.

“We can’t stop earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. But we can better understand the risks, and develop practical steps to reduce the impact on people and property,” says Dr Cowan.

“The researchers we are funding will lead scientific teams to investigate some of the big and urgent questions. Results of their research will be used to help New Zealand take action to increase our resilience to natural disaster.

“We have invested in hundreds of research projects over many years to support scientific understanding of natural hazards so we can mitigate risk. The results have led to new building techniques and better building codes, identifying at risk land, and detailed information for planners and emergency managers about the likely effects of natural hazards in their region.

“So when homeowners are paying their EQC levy, as well as getting natural disaster insurance, they are making a contribution to research that helps us understand the likelihood and impact of natural hazards, and what steps can be taken to reduce the impact on New Zealanders.”

Dr Cowan says that along with funding the Biennial Grants, EQC also contributes $12 million to the GeoNet monitoring system, funds post-graduate student research, university positions and supports regional organisations like Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland and It’s Our Fault in Wellington that bring together natural hazard research with local emergency management.

Media contact: David Miller, media@eqc.govt.nz or 027 406 3476

What will researchers look at with EQC’s 2018 Biennial Research Grants?

Project Researcher

How is the ground still moving in response to the Kaikoura earthquake?
(Post-seismic deformation following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake)

Dr Sigrun Hreinsdottir, GNS Science

Has the Kaikoura earthquake “loaded up” some faults in the region, and lowered stress on others?
(How did the Kaikoura earthquake affect the stress in and around the ruptured region?)

Professor Martha Savage, Victoria University of Wellington

What can changes to the ground along the Kekerengu Fault during the Kaikoura quake tell us about future risk?
(Encoding earthquake ruptures into the stratigraphic record: Changes in near-surface structure of the Kekerengu Fault zone before vs. after the Kaikoura earthquake)

Professor Tim Little, Victoria University of Wellington

Can we use the history of earthquakes on faults to help forecast future earthquakes? 
(Can concepts of the seismic cycle be used to forecast future large-magnitude earthquakes in New Zealand?)

Professor Andy Nicol, University of Canterbury

Developing better ways to detect aftershocks to improve forecasting of further aftershocks. 
(Filling in the gaps: Improving earthquake catalogues to improve forecasting)

Dr Calum Chamberlain, Victoria University of Wellington

What does the impact of the Kaikoura earthquake on the East Coast seafloor tell us about the likelihood of the Hikurangi big one?”
(Using marine sediment flows triggered by the Kaikoura earthquake to measure the earthquake recording potential of sea floor sediments along the Hikurangi margin)

Dr Jamie Howarth, Victoria University of Wellington

Using the latest simulation techniques to understand the strong shaking in Wellington city during the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake – and implications for future earthquakes. 
(Advancing physics based ground motion modelling of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake: Modelling basin-edge effects in Wellington and proposed implications for seismic design)

Professor Brendon Bradley, University of Canterbury

Developing and testing a technique to quickly define the properties of the soil profile across a region to enable a better understanding of the potential earthquake shaking. (“Rapid” geophysical characterisation of New Zealand’s sedimentary basins using the horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio method)

Professor Liam Wotherspoon, University of Auckland

How do earthquakes liquefy gravelly soil – and how can we minimise the risk? 
(Site characterisation and liquefaction potential of Blenheim gravelly sandy deposits)

Dr Gabriele Chiaro, University of Canterbury

Modelling volcanic surge for Auckland volcanoes
(A new model of volcanic surge for New Zealand)

Dr Stuart Mead, Massey University

Using drones to get data from the heart of White Island’s volcano cloud.  
(Measuring and monitoring volcanic ash plumes using unmanned aerial vehicles)

Dr Ian Schipper, Victoria University of Wellington

Using drones with 3D modelling to monitor selected Auckland landslides
(Rapid, cost-effective 3D monitoring of urban landslide displacements)

Dr Martin Brook, University of Auckland

Are current house foundation building standards good enough for houses built on slopes when there is an earthquake? 
(Progressive failure of house foundations on slopes in earthquakes)

Graeme Beattie, BRANZ

How could New Zealanders use an earthquake early warning system? 
(Understanding potential social and damage avoidance benefits of earthquake early warning in New Zealand)

Dr Julia Becker, GNS Science and Massey University

How can migrants be better included in efforts to reduce the impact of disasters in New Zealand? (Engaging South Asian and Chinese migrants in disaster risk reduction in New Zealand)

Dr Nadia Charania, Auckland University of Technology

Mapping tsunami flows in Porirua City.  (Comprehensive land use planning for tsunami)

Dr Wendy Saunders, GNS Science

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