National Seismic Hazard Model team celebrate major milestone

Our Science

05 February 2024


The National Seismic Hazard Model team are celebrating a major milestone this month with over 30 NSHM papers being published in esteemed international journals.

New Zealand’s National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) calculates the likelihood of future earthquakes we may experience and estimates the strength of the ground shaking to expect so the nation can plan accordingly 

The complex scientific model was last revised in 2022 and is central to critical decision making. The model informs urban planning, infrastructure design, engineering, building, insurance and emergency management, and helps to build national resilience and keep New Zealand safer in the face of our natural hazards.

The papers have been published in special issues of the highly regarded Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA) and Seismological Research Letters (SRL) on seismic hazard modelling.

Dr Matt Gerstenberger, GNS Science NSHM Project Lead, said this significant endorsement adds further credibility to the 2022 revision of the model, which showed seismic hazard had increased almost everywhere throughout Aotearoa New Zealand compared to what we knew previously. 

Additional papers are going through the review process with the New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (Earthquake Spectra) and the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research. 

The papers started with an internal participatory review with a panel of 17 experts in 2022 and have since completed their external critical review, explained Dr Gerstenberger. 

The findings and recommendations from the independent review support the high quality and robust science underpinning the model.

Dr Matt Gerstenberger NSHM Project Lead

Dr Gerstenberger says it’s critical to have an up-to-date understanding of the seismic hazards facing New Zealand to help us manage the risks from earthquakes to people, property and the environment.

This milestone will give confidence to users of the model, including the MBIE, Toka Ake EQC, NEMA, local authorities, Waka Kotahi NZTA, structural and geotechnical engineers, land-use planners, seismic hazard consultants, risk modelling consultants, and the insurance sector.

Other countries looking to develop or review their own seismic hazard models - such as Japan, Taiwan, Italy and Australia - can confidently rely on the science behind the New Zealand model to inform their work, enabling greater collaboration and sharing of advancements between nations.

Click the links to view the NSHM special issues in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA)(external link) and Seismological Research Letters (SRL)(external link). 

BSSA Volume 114 Feb 2024 NSHM
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA) Volume 114
SRL Volume 95 Jan 2024 NSHM
Seismological Research Letters (SRL) Volume 95
More about the National Seismic Hazard Model

The National Seismic Hazard Model(external link) calculates the likelihood and strength of earthquake shaking that may occur in different parts of Aotearoa New Zealand over specified time periods. Aotearoa New Zealand experiences around 250 felt earthquakes every year (on average) and thousands more are measured. It is critical information, used by government and industry to help improve national resilience and manage risks to safety, security and the economy from seismic events.

Information about the NSHM is freely available(external link)with video and fact sheets provided to help explain the detailed science, and regional summaries to outline the key information for different locations. The model results can be found here(external link)

The model is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Toka Ake EQC. 

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