Natural Hazards

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 627–637 | Cite as

The 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes: context and cause of injury

  • David Johnston
  • Sarah Standring
  • Kevin Ronan
  • Michael Lindell
  • Thomas Wilson
  • Jim Cousins
  • Emma Aldridge
  • Michael Warne Ardagh
  • Joanne Margaret Deely
  • Steven Jensen
  • Thomas Kirsch
  • Richard Bissell
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to investigate causes of injury during the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. Data on patients injured during the Darfield (4 September 2010) and Christchurch (22 February 2011) earthquakes were sourced from the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation. The total injury burden was analyzed for demography, context of injury, causes of injury, and injury type. Injury context was classified as direct (shaking of the primary earthquake or aftershocks causing unavoidable injuries), action (movement of person during the primary earthquake or aftershocks causing potentially avoidable injuries), and secondary (cause of injury after shaking ceased). Nine categories of injury cause were identified. Three times as many people were injured in the Christchurch earthquake as in the Darfield earthquake (7,171 vs. 2,256). The primary shaking caused approximately two-thirds of the injuries from both quakes. Actions during the primary shaking and aftershocks led to many injuries (51.3 % Darfield and 19.4 % Christchurch). Primary direct caused the highest proportion of injuries during the daytime Christchurch quake (43.6 %). Many people were injured after shaking stopped in both events: 499 (22.1 % Darfield) and 1,881 (26.2 % Christchurch). Most of these people were injured during clean-up (320 (14.2 %) Darfield; 622 (8.7 %) Christchurch). In both earthquakes, more females than males (1,453 vs. 803 Darfield; 4,646 vs. 2,525 Christchurch) were injured (except by masonry, damaged ground, and during clean-up); trip/fall (27.9 % Darfield; 26.1 % Christchurch) was the most common cause of injury; and soft tissue injuries (74.1 % Darfield; 70.4 % Christchurch) was the most common type of injury. This study demonstrated that where people were and their actions during and after earthquakes influenced their risk of injury.


Earthquake Context of injury Causes of injury Risk of injury Injuries 



This study was funded through GNS Science core funding and as part of GNS Science Wellington’s ‘It’s Our Fault’ project. The data were supplied by the Accident Compensation Corporation. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Grant Pittams.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Johnston
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah Standring
    • 3
  • Kevin Ronan
    • 4
  • Michael Lindell
    • 5
  • Thomas Wilson
    • 6
  • Jim Cousins
    • 7
  • Emma Aldridge
    • 3
  • Michael Warne Ardagh
    • 8
  • Joanne Margaret Deely
    • 9
  • Steven Jensen
    • 10
  • Thomas Kirsch
    • 11
  • Richard Bissell
    • 12
  1. 1.Joint Centre for Disaster Research, T20 Wellington CampusMassey UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Joint Centre for Disaster ResearchGNS Science/Massey UniversityLower HuttNew Zealand
  3. 3.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.Central Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  5. 5.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  6. 6.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  7. 7.GNS ScienceWellingtonNew Zealand
  8. 8.University of OtagoChristchurchNew Zealand
  9. 9.Canterbury District Health BoardChristchurchNew Zealand
  10. 10.California State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  11. 11.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  12. 12.University of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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