Skip to main content

Quantitative multi-risk analysis for natural hazards: a framework for multi-risk modelling


This paper introduces a generic framework for multi-risk modelling developed in the project ‘Regional RiskScape’ by the Research Organizations GNS Science and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA) in New Zealand. Our goal was to develop a generic technology for modelling risks from different natural hazards and for various elements at risk. The technical framework is not dependent on the specific nature of the individual hazard nor the vulnerability and the type of the individual assets. Based on this generic framework, a software prototype has been developed, which is capable of ‘plugging in’ various natural hazards and assets without reconfiguring or adapting the generic software framework. To achieve that, we developed a set of standards for treating the fundamental components of a risk model: hazards, assets (elements at risk) and vulnerability models (or fragility functions). Thus, the developed prototype system is able to accommodate any hazard, asset or fragility model, which is provided to the system according to that standard. The software prototype was tested by modelling earthquake, volcanic ashfall, flood, wind, and tsunami risks for several urban centres and small communities in New Zealand.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  1. Bell R, Glade T (2004) Multi-hazard analysis in natural risk assessments. In: Brebbia CA (ed) International conference on computer simulation in risk analysis and hazard mitigation. WIT Press, 26–29 Sept, Rhodes (GR), 197–206

  2. Bell RG, King, AB (2006) Regional RiskScape: a multi-hazard loss modelling tool. Proceedings, international disaster reduction conference 2006. Davos, Switzerland

  3. Blong R (2003) A new damage index. Nat Hazards 30(1):1–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Crozier MJ, Glade T (2005) Landslide hazard and risk: issues, concepts, approaches. In: Glade T, Anderson MA, Crozier MJ (eds) Landslide hazard and risk. Wiley, Chichester

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dowrick DJ, Rhoades DA (2005) Revised models for attenuation of modified Mercalli intensity in New Zealand earthquakes. Bull N Z Soc Earthq Eng 38(4):185–214

    Google Scholar 

  6. Durham K (2003) Treating the risks in Cairns. Nat Hazards 30(2):251–261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. EMA (Emergency Management Australia) (2002) Disaster loss assessment guidelines. Part III emergency management practice, vol 3, Guide 11

  8. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) (2004) Using HAZUS-MH for risk assessment. HAZUS®-MH risk assessment and user group series. FEMA 433

  9. Ferrier N, Haque CE (2003) Hazards risk assessment methodology for emergency Managers: a standardized framework for application. Nat Hazards 28(2/3):271–290

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Glade T, von Elverfeldt K (2005) MultiRISK: an innovative Concept to model natural risks. In: Oldrich H, Fell R, Coulture R, Eberhardt E (eds) International conference on landslide risk management. 31 May–03 June 2005, Vancouver (CND), Balkemaa, pp 551–556

  11. Grünthal G, Thieken AH, Schwarz J, Radtke KS, Smolka A, Merz B (2006) Comparative risk assessment for the city of Cologne, Germany—storms, floods, earthquakes. Nat Hazards 38(1–2):21–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Helm P (1996) Integrated risk management for natural and technological disasters. Tephra 15(1):5–26

    Google Scholar 

  13. ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) (2010) Terminology: basic terms of disaster risk reduction. Last accessed 03 Sept 2010

  14. McBean E, Fortin M, Gorrie J (1986) A critical analysis of residential flood damage estimation curves. Can J Civ Eng 13:86–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Middelmann-Fernandes MH (2010) Flood damage estimation beyond stage-damage functions: an Australian example. J Flood Risk Manag 3:88–96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. NHRC (Natural Hazard Research Centre) (2000) Building damage in the cloncurry flood, 1997. In: Natural hazards quarterly, 6(4):S.4–S.7. Dec 2000

  17. Penning-Rowsell EC, Johnson C, Tunstall S, Tapsell S, Morris J, Chatterton J, Coker A, Green C (2005) The benefits of flood and coastal risk management: a manual of assessment techniques. Middlesex University Press, Enfield

    Google Scholar 

  18. Re Swiss (2003) Natural catastrophes and reinsurance. Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zürich

    Google Scholar 

  19. Reese S (2003) Die Vulnerabilitaet des schleswig-holsteinischen Kuestenraumes durch Sturmfluten. Fallstudien von der Nord- und Ostseekueste. Berichte aus dem Forschungs- und Technologiezentrum Westkueste der Universitaet Kiel, Bd. 30. PhD-thesis, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultaet der Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel

  20. Reese S, Bell RG, King AB (2007) RiskScape—a new tool for comparing risk from natural hazards. Water Atmosphere 15(3):24–25

    Google Scholar 

  21. Risk Frontiers (2010) Last accessed 24 Sept 2010

  22. Te Ara (2009) The 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. The encyclopedia of New Zealand.

  23. Tonkin & Taylor LTD (2004) Hawke’s Bay regional coastal hazard assessment report. Tonkin & Taylor LTD, Napier.

  24. USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers) (1998) USCE (1988). National economic development procedures manual; US army crops of engineers, Fort Collins, USA

  25. Van Westen CJ, Montoya L, Boerboom L (2002) Multi-hazard risk assessment using GIS in urban areas: a case study fir the city of Turrialba, Costa-Rica. In: Proceedings of the regional workshop on best practise in disaster mitigation, Bali, pp 120–136

Download references


The work presented in this paper has been funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research and Technology (FRST) under contract number C05X0409. Quotable Value Limited provided one of the underlying property datasets for the used building inventory. Flood inundation scenarios were provided by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jochen Schmidt.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Schmidt, J., Matcham, I., Reese, S. et al. Quantitative multi-risk analysis for natural hazards: a framework for multi-risk modelling. Nat Hazards 58, 1169–1192 (2011).

Download citation


  • Natural hazards
  • Multi-risk modelling
  • Quantitative risk analysis
  • Hawke’s Bay
  • New Zealand
  • Earthquakes
  • Wind storms
  • Floods