Post-disaster geotechnical response for hilly terrain: a case study from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science (Hons)
Case study analysis of the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence (CES), which particularly impacted Christchurch City, New Zealand, has highlighted the value of practical, standardised and coordinated post-earthquake geotechnical response guidelines for earthquake-induced landslides in urban areas. The 22nd February 2011 earthquake, the second largest magnitude event in the CES, initiated a series of rockfall, cliff collapse and loess failures around the Port Hills which severely impacted the south-eastern part of Christchurch. The extensive slope failure induced by the 22nd February 200 earthquake was unprecedented; and ground motions experienced significantly exceeded the probabilistic seismic hazard model for Canterbury.
Earthquake-induced landslides initiated by the 22nd February 2011 earthquake posed risk to life safety, and caused widespread damage to dwellings and critical infrastructure. In the immediate aftermath of the 22nd February 2011 earthquake, the geotechnical community responded by deploying into the Port Hills to conduct assessment of slope failure hazards and life safety risk. Coordination within the voluntary geotechnical response group evolved rapidly within the first week post-earthquake. The lack of pre-event planning to guide coordinated geotechnical response hindered the execution of timely and transparent management of life safety risk from coseismic landslides in the initial week after the earthquake.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with municipal, management and operational organisations involved in the geotechnical response during the CES. Analysis of interview dialogue highlighted the temporal evolution of priorities and tasks during emergency response to coseismic slope failure, which was further developed into a phased conceptual model to inform future geotechnical response. Review of geotechnical responses to selected historical earthquakes (Northridge, 1994; Chi-Chi, 1999; Wenchuan, 2008) has enabled comparison between international practice and local response strategies, and has emphasised the value of pre-earthquake preparation, indicating the importance of integration of geotechnical response within national emergency management plans. Furthermore, analysis of the CES and international earthquakes has informed pragmatic recommendations for future response to coseismic slope failure.
Recommendations for future response to earthquake-induced landslides presented in this thesis include: the integration of post-earthquake geotechnical response with national Civil Defence and Emergency Management; pre-earthquake development of an adaptive management structure and standard slope assessment format for geotechnical response; and emergency management training for geotechnical professionals. Post-earthquake response recommendations include the development of geographic sectors within the area impacted by coseismic slope failure, and the development of a GIS database for analysis and management of data collected during ground reconnaissance. Recommendations provided in this thesis aim to inform development of national guidelines for geotechnical response to earthquake-induced landslides in New Zealand, and prompt debate concerning international best practice.