Scientists to scour quake-hit suburbs for data

Liquefaction in the eastern Christchurch suburb of New Brighton. Photo / NZ Herald
Liquefaction in the eastern Christchurch suburb of New Brighton. Photo / NZ Herald

Teams of scientists will scour the quake-shattered eastern suburbs of Christchurch over the next fortnight to gather vital information to improve earthquake hazard and risk assessments in New Zealand.

Scientists from the University of Canterbury, city council and GNS Science will carry out visual inspections of the outside of selected residential properties between February 9 and 22, to generate estimates of shaking intensity from the deadly February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Where owners or occupiers are willing, they will also complete a two-page questionnaire about the earthquake and its shaking characteristics.

Project leader Mark Stirling, of GNS Science, said the information would help in the development of mathematical equations that will convert felt shaking intensity into a ground acceleration figure, which will be used by scientists and engineers for a range of hazard-related purposes.

"The information from this earthquake will contribute more to this study than any other New Zealand earthquake," Dr Stirling said.

Intensity is the human-felt scale of earthquake shaking, and a frequently-used measure is the 12-level Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

The equations developed from this project will be able to be used anywhere in New Zealand to make earthquake hazard maps, which can be used in land-use planning and engineering and infrastructure development.

The survey area will not include properties in areas that were most severely impacted by liquefaction, as the damage from shaking will not be easy to decipher in these areas.

The project is funded by the Earthquake Commission.


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