Aftershock communication during the Canterbury Earthquakes, New Zealand: Implications for response and recovery in the built environment

By: , and 



On 4 September 2010, a Mw7.1 earthquake occurred in Canterbury, New Zealand. Following the initial earthquake, an aftershock sequence was initiated, with the most significant aftershock being a Mw6.3 earthquake occurring on 22 February 2011. This aftershock caused severe damage to the city of Christchurch and building failures that killed 185 people. During the aftershock sequence it became evident that effective communication of aftershock information (e.g., history and forecasts) was imperative to assist with decision making during the response and recovery phases of the disaster, as well as preparedness for future aftershock events. As a consequence, a joint JCDR-USGS research project was initiated to investigate: • How aftershock information was communicated to organisations and to the public; • How people interpreted that information; • What people did in response to receiving that information; • What information people did and did not need; and • What decision-making challenges were encountered relating to aftershocks. Research was conducted by undertaking focus group meetings and interviews with a range of information providers and users, including scientists and science advisors, emergency managers and responders, engineers, communication officers, businesses, critical infrastructure operators, elected officials, and the public. The interviews and focus group meetings were recorded and transcribed, and key themes were identified. This paper focuses on the aftershock information needs for decision-making about the built environment post-earthquake, including those involved in response (e.g., for building assessment and management), recovery/reduction (e.g., the development of new building standards), and readiness (e.g. between aftershocks). The research has found that the communication of aftershock information varies with time, is contextual, and is affected by interactions among roles, by other information, and by decision objectives. A number of general and specific insights into improving the communication of aftershock information are provided.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Aftershock communication during the Canterbury Earthquakes, New Zealand: Implications for response and recovery in the built environment
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering proceedings
Conference Title 2015 New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Conference
Conference Location Rotorua, New Zealand
Conference Date April 10-12, 2015
Country New Zealand
Other Geospatial Canterbury
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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