Liquefaction and Paleo-liquefaction in Christchurch, New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Liquefaction during the 4th September 2010 Mw 7.1 Darfield earthquake and large aftershocks in 2011 (Canterbury earthquake sequence, CES) caused severe damage to land and infrastructure within Christchurch, New Zealand. Approximately one third of the total CES-induced financial losses were directly attributable to liq- uefaction and thus highlights the need for local and regional authorities to assess liquefaction hazards for present and future developments. This thesis is the first to conduct paleo-liquefaction studies in eastern Christchurch for the purpose of de- termining approximate return times of liquefaction-inducing earthquakes within the region. The research uncovered evidence for pre-CES liquefaction dated by radiocarbon and cross-cutting relationships as post-1660 to pre-1905. Additional paleo-liquefaction investigations within the eastern Christchurch suburb of Avon- dale, and the northern township of Kaiapoi, revealed further evidence for pre-CES liquefaction. Pre-CES liquefaction in Avondale is dated as post-1321 and pre-1901, while the Kaiapoi features likely formed during three distinct episodes: post-1458 and possibly during the 1901 Cheviot earthquake, post-1297 to pre-1901, and pre-1458. Evaluation of the liquefaction potential of active faults within the Can- terbury region indicates that many faults have the potential to cause widespread liquefaction within Avondale and Kaiapoi. The identification of pre-CES liquefac- tion confirms that these areas have previously liquefied, and indicates that residen- tial development in eastern Christchurch between 1860 and 2005 occurred in areas containing geologic evidence for pre-CES liquefaction. Additionally, on the basis of detailed field and GIS-based mapping and geospatial-statistical analysis, the distribution and severity of liquefaction and lateral spreading within the eastern Christchurch suburb of Avonside is shown in this study to be strongly in uenced by geomorphic and topographic variability. This variability is not currently ac- counted for in site-specific liquefaction assessments nor the simplified horizontal displacement models, and accounts for some of the variability between the pre- dicted horizontal displacements and those observed during the CES. This thesis highlights the potential applications of paleo-liquefaction investigations and ge- omorphic mapping to seismic and liquefaction hazard assessments and may aid future land-use planning decisions.