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Scientists to gather earthquake shaking information - 07/02/2013

Scientists from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, and GNS Science will be visiting residential properties in Christchurch during the next two weeks to gather information to improve earthquake hazard and risk assessments in New Zealand.

The scientists will carry out a visual inspection of the outside of selected residential properties to generate estimates of earthquake shaking intensity from the February 22 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Scientists Mark Stirling and Tatiana Goded, of GNS Science, discuss the survey of Christchurch residential properties  they will be undertaking over the next two weeks. Photo: Margaret Low, GNS Science

Scientists Mark Stirling and Tatiana Goded, of GNS Science, discuss the survey of Christchurch residential properties they will be undertaking over the next two weeks. Photo: Margaret Low, GNS Science

Where owners or occupiers are willing, they will also complete a two-page questionnaire about the earthquake and its shaking characteristics.

Project leader Mark Stirling, of GNS Science, said the information would help in the development of mathematical equations that will convert felt shaking intensity into a ground acceleration figure which will be used by scientists and engineers for a range of hazard-related purposes.

"The information from this earthquake will contribute more to this study than any other New Zealand earthquake," Dr Stirling said.

Intensity is human-felt scale of earthquake shaking, and a frequently-used measure is the 12-level Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

The equations developed from this project will be able to be used anywhere in New Zealand to make earthquake hazard maps for a wide variety of applications. Hazard maps can be an important part of land-use planning and in engineering and infrastructure development.

The survey will be based on a series of 500m grid squares with about four properties being visited in each grid. The survey area will not include properties in areas that were most severely impacted by liquefaction, as the damage from shaking will not be easy to decipher in these areas.

The project is funded by the Earthquake Commission and the survey will be undertaken between 9 and 22 February.