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Quake Centre Director, Robert Finch reflects with pride on their first four years of benchmark achievements.




Set up in direct response to the devastating 2010 – 2011 sequence of earthquakes in Canterbury, the Quake Centre’s collaborative approach melds some of the best minds in earthquake engineering research with the might of industry knowledge.


Since its formation in 2013 the UC Quake Centre has progressed in spades, continuing to break new ground and cementing Christchurch as a city central to knowledge in earthquake research.


“We have come quite a way in what we have learnt in this time,” says Robert. “And in what we can strive to do better to understand how structures behave in earthquakes.”


The Quake Centre has completed a number of notable short term earthquake engineering projects, with longer term research ventures now well and truly underway.


One such important long term project (drawing on a preceding UC New Zealand dams inventory piece) focuses on the ‘seismic assessment of large embankment dams.’


“The information provided by the initial dam inventory provided some very useful outcomes and was greatly appreciated by our partners and asset owners, in particular hydro generators,” says Robert, “helping spawn and shape this latest, larger dam project.”


Alongside dam research, addressing recommendations set out by the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission has been another major Quake Centre focus.


“What came to light were some obvious grey areas in terms of knowledge on our understanding of the seismic behaviour of Reinforced Concrete (RC) in buildings.”


With five (RC) projects currently to their name (three completed and two to be completed by middle of next year) various research findings, or more specifically the seismic loadings of RC walls in a building, have been adopted into the Australia/New Zealand building standards codes for practical application in the field.


Another milestone since the Quake Centre’s outset four years ago has been the creation of a guidance document in a collaborative project with SCIRT (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team).


The guidelines project was predominantly with local council pipe owners in mind to provide standards around the levels of service expected after a disaster for potable, wastewater and stormwater.


The spate of earthquakes that occurred in Christchurch and wider Canterbury during 2010 and 2011 resulted in very significant damage and disruption to the Christchurch horizontal infrastructure networks.


SCIRT was formed in response to this with responsibility for repairing and replacing Christchurch’s three waters, roading and bridge networks as well as some retaining walls and stopbanks.


“A huge job for SCIRT,” says Robert. “With huge outcomes for our industry base and it was of vital importance to let people know the outcomes of all the work that SCIRT had done.” 


“Part of our alliance with them was to develop and make available the SCIRT learning legacy. With website content, documents and specific story content developed (and still being developed) and accessible for industry practitioners and asset owners.


Other more recent innovations include the development of a number of Quake Centre online courses.


“We have two in the pipeline currently being peer reviewed and four already available online - developed from a standing start, where people can register, access and go through at their own pace on demand.”


November 2016 saw the Quake Centre develop and launch their resources portal providing online access to all outputs and developments. 


“Industry practitioners are finding their way there with over 3500 downloads of various documents and tools so far,” says Robert. “Awareness creation has been really good.”


Robert acknowledges the keen industry support the Quake Centre has had from day one.












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