Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 3957–3999 | Cite as

Seismic vulnerability scenarios of Unreinforced Masonry churches in New Zealand

  • T. Goded
  • A. Lewis
  • M. Stirling
Original Research Paper


A vulnerability analysis of c.300 unreinforced Masonry churches in New Zealand is presented. The analysis uses a recently developed vulnerability index method (Cattari et al. in Proceedings of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering NZSEE 2015 conference, Rotorua, New Zealand, 2015a; b; SECED 2015 conference: earthquake risk and engineering towards a Resilient World, Cambridge; Goded et al. in Vulnerability analysis of unreinforced masonry churches (EQC 14/660)—final report, 2016; Lagomarsino et al. in Bull Earthq Eng, 2018), specifically designed for New Zealand churches, based on a widely tested approach for European historical buildings. It consists of a macroseismic approach where the seismic hazard is defined by the intensity and correlated to post seismic damage. The many differences in typologies of New Zealand and European churches, with very simple architectural designs and a majority of one nave churches in New Zealand, justified the need to develop a method specifically created for this country. A statistical analysis of the churches damaged during the 2010–2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence was previously carried out to develop the vulnerability index modifiers for New Zealand churches. This new method has been applied to generate seismic scenarios for each church, based on the most likely seismic event for 500 years return period, using the latest version of New Zealand’s National Seismic Hazard Model. Results show that highly vulnerable churches (e.g. stone churches and/or with a weak structural design) tend to produce higher expected damage even if the intensity level is lower than for less vulnerable churches in areas with slightly higher seismicity. The results of this paper provide a preliminary tool to identify buildings requiring in depth structural analyses. This paper is considered as a first step towards a vulnerability analysis of all the historical buildings in the country, in order to preserve New Zealand’s cultural and historical heritage.


Churches New Zealand Seismic damage scenarios Unreinforced masonry Vulnerability curves Vulnerability index method 



The authors wish to thank New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission (EQC) for funding part of this project (“Vulnerability analysis of unreinforced masonry churches”, reference 14/660). All the building owners and property managers are greatly thanked for allowing the inspection of their buildings. The great support received has been greatly appreciated. This report has greatly benefitted from the internal reviews from Dr. Sheng-Lin Lin and Dr. Vinod Sadashiva from GNS Science.

Supplementary material

10518_2018_351_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29337 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geological and Nuclear SciencesLower HuttNew Zealand
  2. 2.Otago UniversityDunedinNew Zealand

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