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1.14 Researching Geological Hazards and their Mitigation - New Zealand

  • Researching Geological Hazards and their Mitigation - New ZealandNew Zealand is a geologically young and active country, prone to major earthquakes, active volcanoes, and landslides. The goal of this integrated geological hazards and mitigation research programme is to reduce the economic and social cost of such hazards to New Zealand.

  • Managed by Robin Falconer (GNS), the research programme is funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (US$2.3M).

  • FORST is the New Zealand Government's largest investor in innovation. It invests in research, science and technology to build wealth and well being for New Zealand. For this year (2000/2001), FORST is funding GNS research by US$8.1M.

  • The geological hazards and mitigation programme: -

    • Geological hazardsincludes research aimed at understanding the processes that cause earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides. For example, there are studies of: the local amplification of earthquake shaking by soft soils; the way in which seismic shaking passes through the earth; the factors that trigger landslides; and the improved assessment of rock mass properties for construction.

    • operates national recording networks to locate earthquakes and measure the strong, damaging shaking produced by them, and to monitor the state of New Zealand's volcanoes. These networks provide information for emergency management, for continuing research within the programme and elsewhere in New Zealand, and internationally through collaborations and contributions to international data centres. These data underpin the National Probabilistic Hazard Model for New Zealand.

    • collects data in detailed studies of New Zealand's active faults and landslides. The various hazard data are combined using our improved understanding of hazard processes, and are used to estimate the likelihood and severity of future geological hazard events.

    • looks at the vulnerability of New Zealand engineered structures and ways in which this vulnerability can be reduced through better engineering design. The vulnerability, combined with the likelihood of hazard events, estimates the risk, or likely future economic losses. These loss estimates are an essential tool for sound decision making and future planning, so that appropriate measures can be taken to reduce exposure to hazardous events.

    • uses social science to look at community vulnerability and ways in which hazard awareness can be improved and communities become more resilient.


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