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Accelerating research into seismic hazard analysis and forecasting

11 January 2022

A University of Canterbury Earthquake Engineering professor who is leading worldwide research into the effects of ground-shaking caused by earthquakes has gained almost $1 million from Marsden Fund Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden to accelerate his research.


University of Canterbury Professor Brendon Bradley, an award-winning Earthquake Engineering expert and Director of Te Hirangu Rū QuakeCoRE: The New Zealand Centre for Earthquake Resilience, received $916,000 from the 2021 Marsden Fund for his project, titled: Accelerating the advent of physics-based ground motion simulation for seismic hazard analysis.

“Basically, the idea is to get to a point where we can provide the same sort of information as a weather forecaster would tell you. Just like a severe weather warning, we would provide you the same information about severe ground shaking, how it varies locally in your city and suburbs, and the likely consequence to buildings,” says Professor Bradley.

Using New Zealand as a natural earthquake laboratory, this study led by Professor Bradley will create new understanding of seismic ground motion phenomena, and advance their predictability, through a rapidly iterative simulation environment of model formulation and verification, simulation-based prediction, validation against observations, and data assimilation.

“The impact of this research will result from integrated modelling, and consequent holistic understanding, of the seismic rupture, crustal wave propagation and local site response dynamics that give rise to strong ground motions, leading to a ‘quiet revolution’ in this field, similar to what has occurred in weather prediction,” Professor Bradley says.

“This new knowledge will accelerate the advent of accurate and precise physics-based ground-motion simulation methods for use in probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, impacting the understanding of future seismic hazard and risk in New Zealand and worldwide.”

He is also a collaborator in 2021 Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant-winning research led by University of Canterbury Civil and Natural Resources Engineering lecturer Dr Robin Lee, titled: Creating a physics-based understanding of the spatial correlation of earthquake-induced ground motions in regions of complex geology ($360,000).

Professor Bradley, who at age 30 became one of New Zealand’s youngest professors, was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize. He has received numerous national and international accolades for his research and translation to practice on seismic hazard analysis, and it has been used to set new building design codes nationally and internationally.

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