Impact assessment of a far-field tsunami scenario on Christchurch City infrastructure.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Science
University of Canterbury
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Williams, James Hilton

Tsunami have the potential to cause significant disruptions to society, including damage to infrastructure, critical to the every-day operation of society. Effective risk management is required to reduce the potential tsunami impacts to them. Christchurch city, situated on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is exposed to a number of far-field tsunami hazards. Although the tsunami hazard has been well identified for Christchurch city infrastructure, the likely impacts have not been well constrained. To support effective risk management a credible and realistic infrastructure impact model is required to inform risk management planning. The objectives of this thesis are to assess the impacts on Christchurch city infrastructure from a credible, hypothetical far-field tsunami scenario. To achieve this an impact assessment process is adopted, using tsunami hazard and exposure measures to determine asset vulnerability and subsequent impacts. However, the thesis identified a number of knowledge gaps in infrastructure vulnerability to tsunami. The thesis addresses this by using two approaches: a tsunami damage matrix; and the development of tsunami fragility functions. The tsunami damage matrix pools together tsunami impacts on infrastructure literature, and post-event field observations. It represents the most comprehensive ‘look-up’ resource for tsunami impacts to infrastructure to date. This damage matrix can inform the assessment of tsunami impacts on Christchurch city infrastructure by providing a measure of damage likelihood at various hazard intensities. A more robust approach to tsunami vulnerability of infrastructure are fragility functions, which are also developed in this thesis. These were based on post-event tsunami surveys of the 2011 ‘Tohoku’ earthquake tsunami in Japan. The fragility functions are limited to road and bridge infrastructure, but represent the highest resolution measure of vulnerability for the given assets. As well as providing a measure of damage likelihood for a given tsunami hazard intensity, these also indicate a level of asset damage. The impact assessment process, and synthesized vulnerability measures, are used to run tsunami impact models for Christchurch infrastructure to determine the probability of asset damage occurring and to determine if impact will reach or exceed a given damage state. The models suggest that infrastructure damage is likely to occur in areas exposed to tsunami inundation in this scenario, with significant damage identified for low elevation roads and bridges. The results are presented and discussed in the context of the risk management framework, with emphasis on using risk assessment to inform risk treatment, monitoring and review. In summary, this thesis A) advances tsunami vulnerability and impact assessment methodologies for infrastructure and B) provides a tsunami impact assessment framework for Christchurch city infrastructure which will inform infrastructure tsunami risk management for planners, emergency managers and lifelines groups.

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