The vulnerability of New Zealand lifelines infrastructure to ashfall.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Risks posed by geohazards to urban centres are constantly increasing, due to the continuous increase in population and associated infrastructure. A major risk to North Island urban centres is impacts from volcanic ashfall. This study analyses the vulnerabilities of selected New Zealand lifelines infrastructure to volcanic ash, to better understand and mitigate these risks. Telecommunications and wastewater networks are assessed, as is the vulnerability of Auckland Airport and grounded aircraft. The ability of vehicles to drive on ash covered roads is also tested, to determine the extent to which emergency services, utility providers and the public will be able to travel during and immediately after ashfall. Finally, air-conditioners have been identified as a significant vulnerability during ashfall, due to the high dependence on cooling for infrastructure and lifelines providers. These are examined to quantify the effects of ashfall on their performance.
Each of the selected infrastructure types is assessed through a review of past impacts of ashfall, and experimentation either in the field or under laboratory conditions. Where appropriate, mitigation options that reduce identified vulnerabilities are considered. In most cases these options are operational rather than physical engineering solutions, and indicate pre-planning and response requirements.
Key recommended mitigation options include the acquirement or strategic relocation of resources prior to ashfall, regular cleaning and maintenance of essential air conditioners during ashfall to enable their continued use, access to appropriate vehicles for utility providers to reach infrastructure, and discharge of untreated wastewater into Waitemata harbour at Orakei during ashfall on Auckland, to preserve the ability to continue treating wastewater at the Mangere treatment plant