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Earthquakes, disasters and resilience

17 August 2023

UC's earthquake, disaster, and resilience researchers work on Earthquake resilience, Natural and geological hazards, Risk, resilience and renewal, and Hazard and disaster management. Learn more.


World-leading research into earthquakes, disasters and resilience is being conducted by staff and students throughout UC.

Psychology researchers have conducted numerous earthquake/disaster related studies since the Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and Japan's massive earthquake in 2011. PhD student and UC Quake Centre scholarship recipient Royce Liu is progressing steadily with his research into improving the performance of bridge structures under seismic loading. Engineering Professor Brendon Bradley was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize, which included $150,000 for further research.

An important role for the UC Quake Centre is conducting and co-ordinating research, and helping to ensure the findings reach the most appropriate audiences.


Research strengths

Earthquake resilience

Areas of current research in earthquake resilience include:

  • Ground motion simulation
  • Liquefaction impacts on infrastructure
  • Heritage, safety and economics: addressing earthquake-prone buildings
  • Next-generation infrastructure: low-damage and repairable solutions
  • Pathways to improved resilience
  • Spatially-distributed infrastructure


Research centres and groups


Researchers and supervisors

Staff actively working in these areas are:

Ken Elwood
Brendon Bradley
Misko Cubrinovski
Nick Horspool
Jason Ingham
David Johnston
Erica Seville
Liam Wotherspoon

Natural and geological hazards

Areas of current research in natural and geological hazards include:

  • The vulnerability of high voltage electrical distribution systems exposed to volcanic ashfall hazards
  • Prediction of size, location and runout of large coseismic rock avalanches and volcanic debris avalanches
  • Mechanics of fragmentation and rock friction: blockslides and faulting
  • Mechanics of landslide dam breaching
  • River aggradation and flooding from large mass movements
  • Earthquake-induced flooding and aggradation on alluvial fans in Westland
  • Paleoseismicity of active faults in the plate boundary deformation zone
  • Fault-specific and regional seismic hazard assessment
  • Seismic hazard assessment of Canterbury fault propagation folds
  • Volcanic debris avalanches


Research centres and groups

  • Natural Hazard Research Centre
  • Geological Hazards Research Group


Researchers and supervisors

Staff actively working in these areas are:

Risk, resilience and renewal

Areas of current in risk, resilience and renewal include:

  • Organisational resilience and recovery
  • Service provider response
  • Financial recovery 
  • Human Resource Management - leadership and management, post-disaster recovery and management 
  • Law and Policy - natural disasters 
  • Tourism - short-term and long-term impacts, recovery


Research centres and groups

  • UC Centre for Risk, Resilience and Renewal
  • Resilience: Technological Research Group
  • Resilience: Organisational Research Group
  • Resilience: Social Research Group


Researchers and supervisors

Staff actively working in these areas are:

Hazard and disaster management

Areas of current research in hazard and disaster management include:

  • Social resilience - animals, people and community
  • Emergency management planning
  • Volcanic hazards assessment and mitigation
  • Communication in emergency management
  • Mass movement hazards and mitigation
  • Hazard and vulnerability assessments
  • Land use planning for hazard mitigation


Research centres and groups

  • Search and Rescue Research Group (SRRG)
  • Hazard and Disaster Management Group


Researchers and supervisors

Staff actively working in these areas are:

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