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Soil testing to understand earthquake shaking

18 months ago by Kate Boersen

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A Napier researcher is carrying out soil testing across Hawke’s Bay to help inform and improve the assessment of potential shaking characteristics of future earthquakes.

Philip Girgis, a student at the University of Auckland says he is using a seismometer instrument that measures very small vibrations created from natural and human made activities to better understand how it effects earthquake shaking. 

The equipment is either placed on the ground or buried in a shallow hand dug hole and records these small vibrations for around 30 minutes. Once the test is complete the equipment is removed and there are no lasting effects.

Dr Liam Wotherspoon from the University of Auckland says the testing is being carried out at a number of locations around Napier and Hastings and across the wider region through to the end of February next year.

“This method will enable us to better understand the overall stiffness and depth of the soil profile above rock at these locations to help inform our research. We will then look to use more detailed methods to further develop our understanding of the soils across the region,” says Dr Wotherspoon.

Past earthquakes across New Zealand and the world have shown that the soil profile has a significant influence on the potential shaking.

By collecting this data, the research can inform current building design practice and provides the basis for the simulation of potential future earthquakes using modelling approaches that are being developed by QuakeCoRE

This research is part of the QuakeCoRE centre of research excellence in earthquake resilience, a project partner of East Coast LAB.