Tag Archives: earthquakes

The UC Earthquake Commemorative Pathway and Sculpture

In 2015, the UC Council decided to mark the beginning of the Unicycle pathway through the Ilam campus with a sculpture that commemorated the Canterbury earthquakes. 

On 22 February this year, that sculpture will be unveiled on the seventh  anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake – to remember the tragic events that took place in our city on that day and to acknowledge the courage and contribution of the University community following those events.

The sculpture tells a story of remembrance, and depicts a community ritual that has emerged from a tragedy that is now an inherent part of the heritage of Christchurch. It has been designed for the University by Māori artist Riki Manuel. 

The sculpture depicts a koru facing down, as it represents a life taken before fully grown. The undulating surface is rippled, to represent the river Ōtākaro Avon and a series of brass roses, cherry blossom and daffodils on top represent those flowers which the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch throw onto the river each year, in memory of that fateful day.

You are warmly invited to join with us for a short ceremony at 10.30am at the Clyde Road end of University Drive for the unveiling, to be followed by a short walk to the Recreation Centre bridge where we will throw flowers onto Ōtākaro. These will then flow down into the city in time for the formal remembrance service at the National Earthquake Memorial in Central Christchurch at 12.30pm.

Throwing rocks at research

In a small, unassuming container on  Ilam
campus, rocks are being fired at building materials to
simulate a volcanic eruption. Associate Professors Ben Kennedy and Thomas Wilson and PhD student Mr George Williams are putting exterior building claddings to the test with the help of a full-scale ballistics cannon.

The cannon can accurately fire rocks at the same velocity as
they would be flung from a volcano – about 160 kilometres per hour.

(Below: PhD student Mr George Williams and Associate Professor Thomas Wilson.)

Chronicle George Williams Thomas Wilson

“It can fire rocks at the actual speed they come out of a volcano, andin turn we can work out the exact velocity and masses required to puncture holes in roofs, and also work out what the danger might be to people beneath those roofs,” says Associate Professor Kennedy.

The team has tested a number of building materials, including roofing iron, timber weatherboards and concrete slabs, with
quite destructive results. However, as George points out, that doesn’t necessarily mean rocks will breach buildings during a
volcanic eruption.

“I was testing just a single layer of sheet metal, for instance, and if you lower the speed just a little bit that drastically reduces its energy and its potential to keep carrying on through the house,” he says.

The programme of study, which has been building over the last five to eight years, is collecting empirical data in a controlled environment. Its focus is on three specific elements:

  • the hazard (rocks falling out of the sky)
  • what assets are exposed
  • what relates the first two elements, the vulnerability of built infrastructure and how much it can sustain.“Generally the New Zealand components performed better and were stronger than more fragile overseas infrastructure, which is probably due to our building systems to meet earthquake standards,” says Associate Professor Wilson.

    “Although volcanic eruptions rarely occur in a built environment the value of the research is immeasurable, particularly for advice if people are trapped in buildings, where is the safest place to take cover?

    “It will help us better design for disasters.Fundamentally it should help us save lives.”

Kaikōura Earthquake marine survey response

We invite staff and students to Undercroft 101 to attend a presentation by Dr Joshu Mountjoy, Marine Geologist, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). 

Dr Joshu Mountjoy is a UC alumnus who completed his PhD thesis in Geology in 2009.

Date:                     17 August 2017

Time:                    1-2 pm

Location:             Undercroft 101 Seminar Room

170810 joshu_mountjoy__niwaThe marine survey response to the Mw7.8 14 November 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake commenced within a few days of the event. This involved redeployment of R.V. Tangaroa from a paleo-seismological survey that was coincidentally taking place off the east coast of North Island at the time. Since then, additional survey data were collected on NIWA’s coastal vessel Ikatere, and during three further, somewhat opportunistic, surveys by Tangaroa.

These surveys collectively acquired high-resolution multibeam bathymetry data, sub-bottom profiles, sediment cores, and video transects with three primary objectives:

  1. Identifying the seaward extensions of co-seismic surface faulting off the North Canterbury and eastern Marlborough coasts; and
  2. Identifying the extent of co-seismic submarine landslides triggered in Kaikōura Canyon, and an associated turbidity current that carried sediment more than 600km along the Hikurangi Trough to beyond Hawkes Bay.
  3. Assess the impact of the earthquake on benthic communities in the Kaikōura Canyon

This seminar will outline the results of this work, discuss their local and global implications, and how the marine studies have been integrated with the wider geoscience response work.

Opportunity for students to help Kaikōura

The UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) has a new opportunity for students—the NZTA Kaikōura Challenge.

Since the earthquakes of 2016, visitation numbers to Kaikōura have dropped drastically—and for a region heavily dependent on visitors—this poses a significant threat to the economic and social well-being of the residents and their businesses.

Taking place from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 May, the Challenge brings teams of students together from across the University with local and regional experts and mentors. Students will work with local business owners, residents and officials to develop strategies to help the community safeguard against losing their livelihoods by increasing visitor numbers to the area.

This opportunity is open to all current UC students from all levels and areas of study. However, it may be of particular interest to students in the following areas:

  • Anthropology
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Civil Engineering
  • Geology
  • Geography
  • Global Humanitarian Engineering
  • Marine and Coastal Biology
  • Earthquake Engineering
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Health
  • Environmental Science
  • Earthquake Engineering
  • Tourism Marketing
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Māori and Indigenous Studies
  • Media and Communications
  • Natural Resources Engineering
  • Retail Marketing
  • Social Work

If you know any students who would be interested in this Challenge, please forward this information on or direct them to the UCE website. Applications are now open and are closing at 12pm (noon) on Friday the 12 May. Students can apply by completing the online application form.

Additionally, if you are an academic with expertise that may be beneficial to the cause and would like to get involved in this competition, contact Michelle Panzer at michelle.panzer@canterbury.ac.nz ext. 93404

CEISMIC Xplore online photo challenge

The CEISMIC project team at the UC Arts Digital lab has made part of its collection  of building images related to the 2010-11 earthquakes more accessible to the public.

It recently launched an online challenge, which asks users to guess the location of a given photograph from the archive.

CEISMIC Xplore – created in the UC Arts Digital Lab by Digital Analyst Lucy-Jane Walsh and CEISMIC volunteers Brad McNeur and Aidan Millow – is based on the popular GeoGuessr app, which drops a player in a random location in Google StreetView and challenges them to work out where in the world they are.


The CEISMIC archive contains more than 150,000 items related to the Canterbury earthquakes, many of which are images contributed by community organisations and individuals. The CEISMIC team put a huge effort into geo-locating these images, in order to help researchers and the community use them more easily.

CEISMIC Xplore draws images from the archive that are located within the Four Avenues.

“It’s a bit harder than GeoGuessr in that you’re only given a static photo to guess from, but we’ve had a good response from those who have played it so far,” says Lucy-Jane Walsh.

Lucy-Jane says she hopes the challenge will help people piece together their scattered memories of the city.

Xplore can be found at www.xplore.ceismic.org.nz/