High intensity rainstorms and geological hazards: Cyclone Alison, March 1975, Kaikoura, New Zealand

  • Bell D. H. 
Symposium 113 Geological Hazards And The Environment


In the 48-hour period from 9 am (NZST) on 11 March 1975, much of the coastal area surrounding Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand, was severely damaged by high intensity (4 to 12 hour duration) rainfalls resulting from the passage of Cyclone Alison. Extensive regolith mass movements of the debris slide — avalanche — flow types occurred within the steep coastal catchments, and rapid stream aggradation and erosion caused damage in excess of NZ$ 1 million to railway and highway installations. The geologic and geomorphic setting of the Kaikoura area is such that similar ‘catastrophic’ events have almost certainly occurred during geologically recent times, and can be expected to recur in the future. The computed return period for the high intensity rainfalls accompanying Cyclone Alsion exceeds 200 years at the Kaikoura Peninsula meteorological station (Tomlinson, 1975), but there are obvious economic and engineering limitations to the minimisation of future damage.


Cyclone Mass Movement Flood Damage Geological Hazard State Highway 

Tempetes De Grande Intensité Et Risques Géologiques: Le Cyclone Alison (Mars 1975) A Kaikoura (Nouvelle-Zéalande)


Dans la période de 48h commençant à 9 h (heure locale) le 11 mars 1975, une grande partie de la région côtière entourant Kaikoura (Ile du Sud Nouvelle-Zélande) fut gravement endommagée par des pluies de grande intensité et de longue durée (4 à 12 heures) dues au passage du cyclone Allison. Il en résulta trois types des mouvements d’importantes masses de sol résiduel (glissement de débris, avalanche, écoulement) dans les petits bassins côtiers aux pentes escarpées. Rapidement l’érosion et l’alluvionnement causèrent plus d’un million de dollars néozélandais de dommages aux voies ferrées et aux routes. La contexte géologique et géomorphologique de la région de Kaikoura est tel que des catastrophes analogues se sont certainement produites dans les temps géologiques recents et se reproduiront très probablement à l’avenir. A la station météorologique de la presqu’île de Kaikoura, on peut évaleur à 200 ans au moins la périodicité de pluies aussi intenses (Thomlinson, 1975) mais il y a des limites techniques et économiques évidentes qui empêchent de réduire au minimum les futurs dommages.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Engineering Geology 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bell D. H. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology DepartmentUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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