, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 107-140

Observations and implications of damage from the magnitude Mw 6.3 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake of 22 February 2011

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Abstract

This paper describes the observations made by a reconnaissance team following the 22nd February 2011, Mw 6.3, Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake (GNS Science, 2011). The team comprised of members of the UK based Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team who spent 5 days collecting observations on damage resulting from the earthquake. Although the magnitude of this earthquake was not particularly high (Mw 6.3), the shallow focus and close proximity resulted in locally very high ground motions, widespread damage and 182 fatalities. The earthquake is also particularly notable for the widespread liquefaction it caused, landslides and rockfalls in the hills south of Christchurch, and the significant damage suffered by unreinforced masonry and historic structures. Over wide areas of central Christchurch, recorded accelerations were in excess of those required by the current New Zealand seismic loadings standard (NZS1170.5:2004: Standards New Zealand 2004) and therefore the earthquake presented a valuable opportunity to assess performance of modern buildings under code-level ground acceleration.