EQC helps fund UC natural disaster research

16 February 2016

New research involving the University of Canterbury funded by the Earthquake Commission will improve understanding of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and building design.

EQC helps fund UC natural disaster research - Imported from Legacy News system

Dr Ben Kennedy, Senior Lecturer in Physical Volcanology at the University of Canterbury, is one of the recipients of EQC's biennial research funding programme.

New research involving the University of Canterbury funded by the Earthquake Commission will improve understanding of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, seismic building design, and enhance risk management and risk communication.

These four pieces of research are among 15 projects being funded by $1 million in grants made available through EQC’s 2016 Biennial Research Funding Programme. This is a contestable grants programme of public good research, with applications sought every two years. There were 118 applicants for the latest round of funding.

The Biennial Grants are prioritised by an independent panel of seven experts, informed by additional rigorous technical reviews. Overall, EQC contributes $16 million to research annually to build knowledge about New Zealand’s natural hazards and how to manage them.

EQC also funds a teaching and research position at the University of Canterbury. 

2016 Biennial Research Funding Programme recipients at UC:

  • Seismic design of timber-steel hybrid shear wall systems for mid-rise light timber framed buildings - Minghao Li, University of Canterbury with Tongji University, China.

  • Geometries and slip of historical surface-rupturing earthquakes in New Zealand and their application to seismic hazard analysis - Andy Nicol, University of Canterbury Department of Geological Sciences with GNS Science

  • Understanding ashfall hazards from a future eruption at Taupo caldera
    Simon Barker, University of Auckland School of Environment with USGS, University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington

  • Assessing risk from ballistic impacts through aerial hazard mapping, numeric modelling, and laboratory experiments to enhance risk management and risk communication - Ben Kennedy, University of Canterbury Department of Geological Sciences with GNS Science

UC Geologist Dr Ben Kennedy researches volcanology, petrology, geochemistry of igneous rocks, lava dome and explosive volcanism, including hazards and monitoring of active volcanoes.

"When a volcano erupts, flying rocks are a hazard that is poorly quantified and a risk that is poorly managed. Our new laboratory cannon technology, computer modelling and the use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in the field will allow the University of Canterbury to improve this. We will ground truth the technology on erupting volcanoes in Vanuatu and apply what we learn to New Zealand volcanoes," Dr Kennedy says. 

A leader in Engineering and Forestry, UC has a long history of world-class research excellence in timber structures. This includes the innovative post-tensioned timber technology, invented by UC’s timber research team led by Professor Andy Buchanan, Professor Stefano Pampanin and Associate Professor Alessandro Palermo, which has been successfully used in building commercial/industrial timber structures, including extensively in Christchurch’s rebuild.

UC Lecturer of Timber Engineering Dr Minghao Li joined the team in 2014 after 10 years’ research experience in structural timber engineering in Canada.

“I’m interested in using my timber expertise to contribute to UC’s timber research excellence and help build more timber buildings with better performance in New Zealand,” Dr Li says.

In many countries including New Zealand light timber frames (LTF) have dominated low-rise house construction due to their cost-efficiency and structural efficiency.  Considering high seismicity in New Zealand, conventional LTF shear walls may not be sufficiently strong for taller LTF buildings. The aim of the research project on seismic design of hybrid timber-steel shear wall systems is to provide a cost-effective timber-steel solution for mid-rise LTF buildings suitable for New Zealand’s built environment.

UC Geologist Professor Andy Nicol begins work on his project mid-year in collaboration with GNS Science and Otago University. This work will use existing historical and geological earthquake information to examine how faults rupture, he says. The 4 September 2010 Darfield earthquake ruptured numerous faults and was the catalyst for the research.

“If multi-fault rupture is the norm rather than the exception this could have significant implications for the way we estimate seismic hazard from prehistoric fault ruptures. The results could have both national and international implications,” Prof Nicol says.

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew
Senior External Relations Advisor
Communications and Engagement
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775
Mobile: 027 5030 168
margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz