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UC experts to speak in London on Christchurch’s earthquakes

UC experts to speak in London on Christchurch’s earthquakes

September 5, 2012

Two University of Canterbury experts Tom Wilson and Chris Hawker will deliver their views on the Christchurch earthquakes during an international conference at the University College in London on November 5 and 6.

UC lecturer Wilson will tell the conference on urban sustainability and resilience how the quakes have impacted on Christchurch and what the future may hold for the new city.

``I will explain the role and limitations of what information geoscience can reasonably provide in hazard and disaster management and also look at lessons from responding, managing and adapting to the repeated and cumulative impact from a sustained period of seismicity. This has created a haze of uncertainty and on-going delays across engineering, social, political and land use decision making.

``I will offer some views how we can create a resilient Christchurch in a multi-hazard environment; and discuss how New Zealand is grappling with rising societal expectation of what is "acceptable disaster losses", including post-event functionality.

``We will tell them Christchurch is witnessing the demolition of over 1100 buildings in the central city, including a significant number of heritage buildings. Over eight million tonnes of disaster debris has been created (equivalent to 40 years of waste from Christchurch). Total damage costs are estimated at $nz20 billion which exceed 10 percent of New Zealand's GDP, making it one of the most costly disasters per capita ever for a developed nation.’’

Wilson said the situation in Christchurch was exacerbated by significant strain on global reinsurance providers. The liquefaction ground damage had led to over 7500 homes being demolished, a scale never before seen in New Zealand and making this one of the greatest geotechnical disasters of the modern age.

Hawker, who was in charge of emergency operations on campus after the big earthquakes, will tell the London delegates how UC as the largest single community in the city coped with the quakes.

Hawker, who led emergency response operations on campus after the big earthquakes, will tell the London delegates how UC as the largest single community in the city coped with the quakes and how UC had prepared before the quakes.

He and Wilson will also meet heads of top UK natural hazard and disaster research institutes with the aim of developing links with them and the UC.


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