Professor Mark Stirling works on Hyde’s fault near Medelmark.
Southland could be New Zealand’s largest area for incomplete seismic error information, but University of Otago researchers can now fill gaps after receiving a new EQC grant.
The $ 375,000 grant over three years will link tectonic disciplines and social sciences to Professor Mark Stirling and Dr. Caroline Orchston, from the University’s Geology Department and the Sustainability Center, respectively.
Their research will address seismic hazards and preparedness in Southland because of its classification as a low earthquake zone, and will be a case study of similar low seismic regions such as Auckland and Waikato.
While areas such as Wellington and Alpine Fault have traditionally been the focus of seismic finance, Professor Stirling says this opportunity to do business in Southland is crucial to building an image of earthquake hazards, risks, and preparedness for the entire country.
Professor Stirling, Otago’s chief of seismology, says, “For example, the northern front of the Hukonoi Hills may define a long fracture system that runs from Mossburn to Nugget Point on the coast, which if launched could lead to a major seismic event.” .
Recent studies by Otago, Acator and Hyde Fones have also shown that the occurrence of a significantly irregular earthquake is another feature of low earthquake areas.
Dr. Orchston’s part of the paper will search for local government stakeholders and other users of construction law perception (including building legislation prone to earthquakes), to understand how the law is implemented in their core business.
“For example, earthquake-prone buildings are supposed to be identified and added to the registry, but councils in earthquake-prone areas have been slow to complete their work and this is not surprising given that the time frames for retrofitting earthquake-prone buildings exceed three decades.
The sustainability director at the Sustainability Center says that taking a multidisciplinary approach to problems such as earthquake risk is essential to understanding the ways in which we can better prepare for these challenges.
“The combination of research skills in this EQC funded project will enable us to look at this problem from a number of important perspectives,” says Dr. Orchester.
“Then we can make some recommendations that we hope will be convertible to other less seismic hazard areas in New Zealand and beyond.”
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