Lyceum 2021 | Together Towards Tomorrow
Like many Pacific Rim countries, New Zealand has high seismicity and is exposed to a range of geophysical and climatic hazards.
NZ is a long, narrow island chain with very little redundancy in its infrastructure networks, which service many remote communites. Recent earthquake disasters have galvinised the New Zealand government to improve our physical and social resilience to future events. Over the past decade, several so-called ‘boundary organisations’ have been established that bring together science, practice and policy to achieve the goal of improving public awareness and preparedness for future natural hazard events.
One of these organisations is known as AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8], which aims to improve response capability for a future damaging plate boundary earthquake on the Alpine Fault, and to improve the risk literacy of our citizens and emergency response agencies to support improved community-led preparedness and response efforts. This presentation will reflect on the last five years of collective effort on AF8, and the positive outcomes that have contributed to mitigating disaster risk. Lessons learned from these efforts in NZ could be applied by other nations around the world with high exposure to natural hazards.
Associate Professor, Acting Director Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago
(Caroline speaking in Maori)
My name’s Caroline Orchiston
I’m from the University of Otago in New Zealand.
And we are the second most southern university in the world.
It’s springtime in New Zealand.
We’re currently in a COVID lockdown,
so I’m talking to you from my home office.
So if any of my kids wander into the room,
you’ll understand why.
So I’m here today to talk about resilient communities
and how we need to move beyond
sort of past traditional approaches to building resilience,
and put people at the center
of disaster risk reduction efforts worldwide.
Why is this important?
Well, we’ve got growing exposure
to a range of geohazards and climatic hazards.
Around the world, populations are increasingly exposed
to these types of hazard events.
You can see some data here from Swiss Re
of the cost of a range of hazards
that have been taking place over the last 20 or 30 years.
These are spread across the globe.
What these images don’t show you
is the human dimension of loss,
the lives and the livelihoods, the human vulnerability,
and the long-term nature of recovery.
Daily we’re hearing of new stories
of the impact and consequences of hazard events.
These are growing in frequency and intensity,
particularly the climatic hazards
driven by increasing global carbon emissions
and the anthropogenic causes of climate change.
We go back again to the Swiss Re data set from 1970,
right through to today,
and you can see the insurance costs
mainly from climatic hazards,
but also these large, infrequent,
but high consequence earthquakes over time.
You can see the Canterbury earthquakes
that we experienced in New Zealand in 2010,
alongside the Japanese earthquake and tsunami,
and a number of other major earthquakes through time.
The costs are growing, this is the key point here.
Insurance costs are growing through time,
and we need to be aware of that
as we move towards building more resilient communities.
And the future is uncertain.
In many ways we have places which are affected
by compounding and cascading hazard events.
We’re seeing countries and regions
being hit by several hazards through time,
and the merging of what I would call
the emergency management cycle
of reduction and readiness, and response and recovery.
Many communities are having
to go through this cycle of events
much more quickly than it has done in the past
as one event is quickly followed by another.
On a brighter note,
we’ve made significant progress
in improving the resilience of our critical infrastructure
and learning from past experiences
to build resilience into our communities.
So resilient infrastructure, which of course,
many of you will be involved in
as engineers and geoscientists,
that’s an important part of the puzzle.
And we’ve used our engineering prowess, I suppose,
to improve the accessibility of communities,
the recovery of communities after the disasters.
Here’s an example from New Zealand
of a previously very vulnerable section of highway
connecting the eastern and western coastlines
of the South Island.
This is Arthur’s Pass, and you can see the very windy.
It wasn’t even sealed at this stage back a few decades ago,
winding its way through some very highly exposed
And this was a very vulnerable landscape
through which many people
relied on transport infrastructure links,
and taking food and goods through
from east and western coast.
Over time, we’ve built resilience into this place
through the construction of a viaduct,
which has, you can see now we’re looking again
at these scree slopes coming down off the left of the slide.
You can see the viaduct down in the bottom
and just giving you a sense of scale of this environment.
It’s a particularly beautiful part of the southern alps
of the South Island, but very exposed.
And over time, we’ve improved the resilience here.
This viaduct is built to withstand
a magnitude eight earthquake.
And just below the section of road,
there’s some more wonderful engineering
to prevent rockfall across the highway.
We’ve got the highway actually clipped on here
with a waterfall cascading over the top,
and some more interesting engineering projects
that have been done in the last couple of decades.
Another example from recent times
was the Kaikoura earthquake, which we experienced in 2016
in the South Island of New Zealand.
It was a magnitude eight earthquake
has struck a very high terrain area
of the north-western part,
north-eastern part of the South Island.
And you can see here the highway and also the rail network,
this is our State Highway 1,
our most significant road in the country
being completely devastated by this landslide here
at Ohau Point.
It took 13 months and a huge amount of collaboration
across agencies to repair this section of road.
Here’s what it looks like now.
As you can see a lot of sluicing, blasting,
removal of loose material from above the highway.
It’s been raised up several meters
because actually this earthquake involved
uplift of the coast of several meters,
which I suppose you could say,
has built resilience into this highway,
just through avoiding a bit of sea level rise
over the coming years as well.
But an incredible amount of work that went in
from a team of engineers
and a collaborative multi-agency project here
to improve the access along our,
well to restore the access of State Highway 1.
The communities were isolated from the earthquake.
The township of Kaikoura was closed for a year.
It’s a very busy bustling tourist town,
which really struggled in the aftermath of this event.
Here’s another sample just to draw into focus
the fact that people must always be thought about
as being the center of any consideration of hazards.
This is an example from West Washington in the USA,
and we’ve had some projects over there
over the last 10 years or so.
And this particular community
sits in very low lying coastal area
within spitting distance of the Cascadia subduction zone.
So this subduction zone has the potential to generate
a magnitude nine earthquake and tsunami.
And the tsunami risk is particularly scary
for these communities.
So the principal of the school
shown in the middle of the picture,
on the right, upper right of the slide
acknowledged or learnt about the science
of the Cascadia subduction zone
and realized that her community was hugely vulnerable.
So she went to her school district,
she had the ballot passed on the fourth attempt
to build her school as a vertical evacuation refuge,
or vertical evacuation structure.
This was completed about three years ago.
It took a huge amount of community support.
This is a low socioeconomic community
and they self-funded most of this build.
They did manage to get some FEMA funding as well.
For the engineers out there,
just some interesting facts about this build,
there were 169 pilings that were built,
or driven 15 meters into the ground, that’s 50 feet down.
Rated to withstand a 9.2 magnitude earthquake,
which would be one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded,
and it has a six foot parapet around
the top of the building here to protect the kids
from any waves that might go over the top here.
But of course, this is well outside of the likely range
of a tsunami wave that would affect this community.
It would also hold 2000 people from the local district
if they could get there on foot,
so that 2000 people are within walking distance
of the structure,
and it can be accessed by four staircases
in each corner of the building.
So a very impressive piece of community-led resilience work
being done here with support from USDS
and the local emergency management,
the state emergency management people as well.
So a really positive story here of community-led resilience.
I think the other thing that we need to talk about
and acknowledge is that the value of indigenous knowledge,
and so respecting different types of knowledge,
whether it be indigenous local community knowledge
or western science knowledge,
all parts of those are really valid and important
in any discussion of hazards.
This is Ruaumoko, who is the Atua,
or the God of earthquakes and volcanoes in Maori culture.
Native Americans have similar understandings
of the natural environment,
and in fact, the Native Americans
were affected by the 1700 AD
Cascadia magnitude nine earthquake.
Their community was wiped out by that event.
And there are lots of oral traditions of those events
going back in time.
In New Zealand, Maori are really at the forefront now
of leading the response to many of our events
that happen these days in New Zealand.
So this is what’s called a marae, or a meeting house.
This is in Kaikoura, where the earthquake happened in 2016.
And the Iwi, the local Maori,
they hosted 1200 people in this marae, tourists mainly,
who were stranded in the town,
and they effectively housed and gave them welfare
until they were airlifted out of this township.
And so indigenous knowledge,
indigenous resources are really important
in any discussion around disaster risk reduction.
In Christchurch in 2011,
of course, we had a very devastating earthquake.
It basically destroyed the central city of Christchurch.
Here is a building that catastrophically collapsed,
and we had two of these buildings that killed 130 people
out of the total casualties of 185 deaths.
So most of our buildings in New Zealand
and in Christchurch at the time
actually performed very well.
We have very good building codes in New Zealand.
We have a very high insurance rate in the city.
It was one of the biggest insured earthquake events
ever recorded in the world.
And so New Zealand was in a good position
to invest in recovery following this event.
Of course, in contrast, in that same year,
the Haiti earthquake occurred
in what is a very vulnerable population of people
with very poorly constructed buildings.
It led to 300,000 deaths, and now more tragedy
from the compounding earthquake and hurricane,
which are affecting this country as we speak.
The government in Haiti, of course,
is not able to support its people through recovery.
The lesson here is that we need to work as a global society
to improve resilience,
to support nations that aren’t able to support themselves,
and learn those critical lessons about building resilience,
infrastructure resilience and community resilience
in different contexts around the world.
So I’d like to now move to an example in New Zealand
of some work we’ve been doing
to build collective resilience in communities
around the South Island.
We’ve been working to find novel ways
to integrate research policy and practice
using a very collaborative design
with lots of good science communication,
and visualizations of hazards
in the South Island of New Zealand
to try and build our collective resilience to future events.
But before I launch into AF8,
which is the example I’m going to be talking about,
I’d like to give you a bit more context
around the New Zealand hazardscape, I suppose,
the landscape, the tectonic environment of New Zealand.
And of course, we sit down here in the south-west Pacific,
right on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
So we are transected by the interface
between the Pacific and Australian Plates.
Like many of our neighbors around the Pacific,
and I’m sure I’m speaking to many of you now from America,
from South America, from Canada, Japan,
and through South-East Asia,
we all live with the risks presented by the Pacific Ring.
This is a very active and an exciting environment
if you’re a geoscientist or an engineer,
and now we move into a slide illustrating that
by sort of cutting New Zealand into a block model,
slicing it down the middle
to show you what’s happening beneath the surface here
of this plate interface.
So we have a subduction zone up off the north-east coast
in the upper right-hand corner of the slide.
That subduction zone is quite mature,
and it’s producing volcanic activity
through the central North Island of New Zealand.
Off the south-west coast, we have another subduction zone,
but this time the Australian Plate
is subducting under the Pacific Plate.
And in between the two, we have a transform fault
linking these two major tectonic structures.
So this is a very active environment
for earthquakes in New Zealand,
and this is the 2010 version
of our national seismic hazard model.
And you can see the red and orange colors
really pointing to the plate boundary
as it makes its way through New Zealand.
This is interesting because our hazard model from 2010
shows these obviously reds and orange colors
right on the plate boundary interface.
But as you move away from that,
you can see the colors lightening up
into the kind of greens and blues,
illustrating, I suppose, to the untrained eye,
a relatively low seismic hazard
in that eastern side of the South Island
and the upper part of the North Island.
So Christchurch and Dunedin, I’m down in Dunedin,
which is right off the eastern coast down here,
both of those cities were considered to be lower,
relatively low seismic hazard
at the time of the February earthquake in 2011.
So our model of seismic hazard is being updated right now.
And I can tell you, they won’t be using
that low seismic hazard zone terminology,
I doubt very much in the next iteration of this,
because it really did create a sense
that these parts of New Zealand
were less likely to be affected by a future earthquake.
Anyway, so that’s the setup.
And now I’m going to show you where the Alpine Fault is,
and this is zooming down
onto the South Island of New Zealand.
Now the Alpine Fault comes off the south-west coast
of the South Island at Milford Sound,
and it makes its way up the western side
of the Southern Alps, or the high alps of the South Island,
before reaching the Springs Junction
where it branches off into a number of other faults
and links through into that subduction zone
off the north-east coast.
So this is the Alpine Fault.
It’s about 650 kilometers long.
And essentially what’s happening
across this section of the plate boundary
is that you’ve got the Pacific Plate coming in
slightly obliquely to the Alpine Fault.
So this is largely speaking,
a left sort of a, pardon me,
a right lateral strike slip fault,
but there is this component of compression.
So we’ve got a squeezing together
across the central South Island,
and an uplift of the Southern Alps,
which are beautiful high alps
that go right down the spine of the South Island.
And essentially what’s happening over time
is that energy is building across the plate boundary.
But we don’t experience earthquakes as often as,
there aren’t many small earthquakes along the Alpine Fault.
What we find is that this energy is building up,
and it’s released in large earthquakes over time.
And we have some, a pretty good understanding
of the past behavior of the Alpine Fault.
And so up until about 2010,
we knew of three past earthquakes.
Now this chart is slightly complex,
so I’ll talk you through it.
In the top right hand corner of the slide,
you can see a little red dot,
that’s the present day, that’s now.
And then as we move towards the left of the slide,
we’re going back in time, 8,000 years back in time.
And so those three little black histograms
are showing the events that we knew about in the past
from a range of different paleoseismic sources
of information and data.
Up until about 2010, that’s what we knew.
Then a team of scientists went to a location
at the southern end of the Alpine Fault,
and they made what was an incredible discovery.
So they went to a creek,
and they discovered a sequence of sedimentary deposits.
And you can see an image of those now
with some radiocarbon dates.
Now these stripes of sediment
are illustrating the landscape response
following major earthquakes.
And so on the Alpine Fault, when the ground shakes,
we get a landscape response,
which means a lot of landslides
are happening up in the Alps,
and a lot of sediment comes down through the river systems.
And so here,
we’ve captured sediment from the Alpine Fault earthquake,
and essentially what that told us was
that we had a lot more earthquakes
than we knew about previously,
so much so that the dataset
now extends back over 8,000 years,
and includes 27 earthquakes on the Alpine Fault.
You can see the first thing I think is pretty striking
is that these earthquakes are happening regularly
There’s almost like a rhythm
to the way the Alpine Fault behaves.
It’s storing up seismic energy, and then releasing it.
And if you do the maths on this dataset,
that comes out just under 300 years on average,
the recurrence interval
between major events on the Alpine Fault.
More recently, we’ve had some additions to the science
that have come along.
So we have new data from lakes
up along the central section of the Alpine Fault
shown here in yellow.
And so these four lakes similarly have sediment captured
in the base of those lakes,
and my colleague, Jamie Howarth and his team
have worked out on the lakes,
and here he is collecting data.
So he’s basically extracting cores
from the bottom of these Alpine lakes.
This is what they look like.
So you can see the stripes of sediment,
much like we saw in the river,
the creek bed that I showed you previously,
these stripes of sediment,
which are able to be radiocarbon dated
and produce a range of dates going back through time,
which really corroborated what we already knew
about the way the Alpine Fault was behaving.
So we knew of this number of earthquakes
going back through time.
So the key messages, and these are the messages
that we talk to communities about.
And we present these to the community
is that the Alpine Fault
has a long history of large earthquakes.
It’s remarkably regular through time,
and there really is no reason
why they should stop happening,
that it will continue in future.
The average recurrence interval is approximately 300 years,
with the last significant earthquake in 1717 AD.
The new science that was just released
has really updated or upgraded
the probability of the next earthquake
from what we’ve previously knew
of about 29% likelihood in the next 50 years.
That’s been upgraded to 75% probability in the next 50 years
of a major earthquake on the Alpine Fault.
And an 82% chance that this rupture,
or this earthquake will be a magnitude eight plus event.
So this sort of science, I think,
really is very compelling
in terms of the picture or the story
of why we need to be concerned about the Alpine Fault.
And so that really led to this collaboration
coming together in 2016.
So AF8 stands for Alpine Fault magnitude eight.
It was funded by our National Emergency Management Agency,
in collaboration with emergency management groups
around the South Island,
and a number of other partner agencies,
which I’ll mention in a moment.
And the goal of this event was, of this program rather,
was to bring together the science modeling that we had
off the shelf.
We knew a lot about the science of the Alpine Fault
at the time,
to develop a response plan for the first seven days
after the earthquake happens.
So it was really about how do we coordinate and prioritize
response actions in the first week
after an event of this scale,
which will affect large parts of the South Island?
The other part of AF8
was really about engaging the community,
talking to the people who live in these landscapes
and in these communities,
to help them understand the risks that are posed
by the Alpine Fault
and to help them get better prepared
for a future earthquake.
So this is, it’s not a unique project by any means,
but one of the benefits of AF8
was that it really was nested nicely
between these traditional domains
of research policy and practice.
You can see on the image,
the AF8 program has really nested nicely
between these traditional domains.
And that was one of the really important benefits
of the work that we were trying to achieve.
It was building on a very strong science foundation,
drawing on the policy and the practice.
People working in policy and practice
to inform the work that we were doing in AF8,
and it became a really exciting collaboration
which managed to get quite a lot done.
I find it useful to think about the boundary
between these traditional domains, I suppose,
of policy and science
as having very different and very contrasting needs.
But the fact that we needed to find a way
to draw these two parts of the puzzle together, I suppose.
So in the science domain, scientists require credibility.
We had to do credible science,
we need quality assurance through peer review.
And at the other end of the policy domain
It’s got to be done quickly, it needs timely input-
And oops, excuse me.
Let me just click to the next part of this.
And it need simple information to inform policy,
but it has to be underpinned by strong science.
So scientists, we are dealing with uncertainty
and complex information,
and that takes time to produce the science products
that we need.
So we have these two sort of ends of a spectrum,
I suppose you could say,
that have very different needs and timeframes, I suppose.
In the middle is the hybrid zone.
This is where AF8 is quite nicely nested,
because it’s drawing on the science and the policy.
It requires legitimacy,
but it also requires the balance
between these two ends of the spectrum.
There’s compromise, there’s inclusion,
and there’s a lot of transparency
in the work that these sorts of boundary organizations
are trying to achieve.
So the first two years of AF8’s work
were putting together the SAFER Framework,
SAFER stands for the South Island Alpine Fault
Earthquake Response Framework.
And as I mentioned, this was really targeting
that first seven days after the disaster.
So it was a document that would inform
the coordination and the prioritization
of response activities over that first seven days.
Now this document’s been really, really powerful.
It has led to a number of major achievements,
including establishing a number of specific planning roles,
excuse me, planning roles in our house sector,
in our fire and police and other agencies
who have really worked to prioritize AF8 planning.
Based on this document and the work that AF8’s been doing,
they’ve actually employed staff to spend time
to work through this document
and make it relevant to their specific agency
so that they’re in a better position
to respond and to work in collaboration with others
when this event happens.
So one of the really important things from AF8
was having science products
that would help engage the public
on the science of the Alpine Fault.
We were very fortunate that my colleague, Brendon Bradley,
at the University of Canterbury
had just finished producing this animation
of a scenario earthquake for the Alpine Fault.
And he can see the Alpine Fault earthquake
beginning down in Milford Sound,
and the seismic energy starting to radiate out
from the epicenter.
And these seismic waves start to build in intensity
as the earthquake propagates up to the north-east
along the Alpine Fault.
You can see some of the seismic waves heading eastward
out towards the coast
and in the southern part of the South Island.
And this was an incredibly powerful
piece of science communication
that really helped us to draw people into the conversation
about the Alpine Fault.
You can see now as the seismic energy is moving
up into the northern part of the South Island,
and eastward out into what we call the Canterbury Plains,
which are deep sedimentary basins,
where the, you can see the seismic energy
is really reverberating
around in that deep sedimentary basin.
Whereas through the high alps
with a solid basement underneath it,
there’s less of that sort of a reverberation
of seismic energy.
So the other thing to note on this
is of course the time ticking away
in the upper right-hand corner,
and you can see this is a long earthquake.
This is going to go on for minutes,
and that was the other thing I think
that really drew people into this story
was the fact that it’s not going to happen
with just a few tens of seconds of ground motion.
This is something that’s going to roll out for minutes,
and it’s a big, long fault.
So it starts somewhere and it has to work its way
right along the fault zone,
and that all takes time to happen.
So this was a single scenario
that we use to inform the development of the SAFER Framework
and all of the engagement that we did with communities.
This is an intensity model for that earthquake scenario,
where the earthquake’s beginning down in Milford Sound,
you can see the epicenter that is in white there,
and the intensity or the footprint of damage
that’s experienced across the South Island.
And the first thing to note
is that this is a South Island wide event.
While there are some parts of the island in this scenario
that are less likely less damaged, will be less damaged,
of course they will, for example,
where I live in area of which has intensity four or five
in the southern south-eastern part of the South Island,
we might still be affected by disruption
through the electricity network being damaged,
and there might be blackouts
across large parts of the island
and other types of indirect consequences.
So this is a South Island wide earthquake,
and I think again,
that really drew people into the story
of us all being in this together as South Islanders.
So we did some modeling to understand
the potential impacts and consequences of the ground motions
generated by the scenario earthquake.
And so this is the State Highway Network
with peak ground velocities.
And you can see many of our highways do very well,
but the ones that are worst affected
are those around the Southern Alps
and on the western side of the Alpine Fault.
And you can see these orange and yellow colors
showing very high ground velocities,
which will cause significant damage to the highway network.
We did a similar analysis for the bridges,
and of course, west of the Southern Alps,
we have a lot of rivers.
It’s a very high rainfall area
’cause we have a lot of western weather
that comes across the Tasman Sea,
strikes the natural barrier of the South Island
and dumps a lot of rain.
And so there are lots of big rivers
that go down to the western side of the alps,
and many bridges as a consequence,
so many of our communities on the west coast
are linked by bridges.
They’re the lifeblood of the community.
If the bridge goes down,
then people can’t travel up and down
the long narrow coastal strip of the west coast.
We also did an analysis on the likely landslide distribution
across the Southern Alps.
And of course, when you shake mountains,
there are going to be landslides very pervasively
across that high topography.
And so you can see that distribution, right,
a lot of landslides happening
around 10 kilometers either side
of the Alpine Fault rupture itself.
And then we can overlay the landslide model with,
for example here, the State Highway Network,
and you can see the pinchpoints
where landslides are likely to cross the highway
and cause additional disruption.
So not only from ground motions,
but from landslides crossing the road.
And you can see Arthur’s Pass,
which I showed you in the early slides.
This is the road that links
the eastern and western coastlines.
You can see that’s a real pinchpoint
because of that really unstable terrain
around the valleys, or the Pass
that goes across the alps there.
And the highway that essentially is crisscrossed
right down the west coast,
particularly around Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, sorry,
another really important tourism destination for New Zealand
is severely effected by rupture and landslides
across the Alpine Fault zone there and the highway.
And we did a analysis of the likely timeframes
for restoration of the network.
Now, this was a essentially a qualitative piece of work
involving community leaders,
but also key people from agencies
like the New Zealand Transport Agency
and the electricity network people as well.
And so this was essentially trying to understand their views
on how long it might take to restore the roads.
You can see timestamps going from day one
after the earthquake,
where many of these roads are in red
and therefore have no access.
And as time goes along
through the weeks and months following this event,
you can see even after six months,
the red highway through Arthur’s Pass down the west coast,
and the next pass, the Haast Pass,
which also connects the eastern and western parts
of the South Island,
again with no access well beyond the six month part phase
of this event.
So these communities in the southern and western parts
of the South Island will be isolated by road
for many, many months after an event like this.
And that’s cause for concern.
So another piece of work that was undertaken
by the University of Auckland,
and my colleague Liam Wotherspoon,
involved looking at the network interdependencies
across all of our horizontal infrastructure in New Zealand.
So this is, these are the networks
that they considered in this analysis.
And then they modeled their cumulative disruption
and recovery of those networks.
And so understanding the interdependencies
between these networks, for example,
the, if electricity goes down,
then communication is going to be affected,
and we won’t be able to pump the fuel at fuel stations,
those sorts of things.
Understanding those interdependencies
showed that across the whole island,
there would be disruption.
The only reason the very south-west corner
of the South Island has none
is because no one lives there.
That’s a great big national park
with no infrastructure in it.
The rest of the island is affected
by some degree of disruption for the first week at least,
and then we see from the months
and into the six months after this event,
lingering disruption from these interdependencies
as time goes on and into six months and beyond,
we can still see the west coast and the upper South Island
is experiencing some sort of disruption through time.
So how do we take all of that?
How do we work with communities to raise their awareness
and build preparedness
so that when this event happens in future,
this inevitable event,
they’re in a better position as communities
to look after themselves.
Our agencies are aware of the connections and collaborations
that they will be working with
during the response and into the recovery
following an event like this.
How do we do that effectively?
And I think one of the big parts of AF8’s work
has been that outreaching and engaging on the science.
We’ve teamed up
with a number of other regional hazard initiatives
across New Zealand.
So AF8’s terrain, or I guess it’s a field area
is the South Island,
but in the North Island of New Zealand,
we are exposed to a range of other hazards, of course.
We have volcanic hazards,
so the ECLIPSE program and the DEVORA program
are focused on volcanic risk.
What’s called East Coast Lab or Life at the Boundary
is a coastal hazards earthquake tsunami initiative.
And so we’ve worked across these public initiatives
to do better in terms of public education and engagement.
And so some of the initiatives,
I’ll give you a taste of what those look like.
This for example, was an initiative that kicked off in 2020.
We were meant to be out on our roadshow at this stage,
but we really had to pivot to COVID,
and we shifted onto digital platforms
to do a lot of our engagement.
And so what AF8 believes
is that we need to be listening to our audiences
and being responsive to the questions that they might have
about these types of hazards.
And so we called it A Lot on our Plates,
plates obviously referring to the plate boundary
that we sit on,
but also, you know, a lot on our plates,
sort of a nice play on words there.
So listening to our audiences,
asking them questions and getting their feedback.
And this event was a live Q&A with scientists.
We had hundreds of people on the call
and they were asking questions
and getting answers from the scientists directly,
which was really exciting to be part of.
Here’s another snapshot from our social media campaign,
trying to help people understand
what that plate boundary really does involve.
So we’ve got the red line off the coast there
of the Hikurangi subduction zone.
We’ve got the Alpine Fault,
and we have this transition zone in between
where Wellington, our capital city is sitting,
and exposed to a range of earthquake sources.
So again, just an opportunity for people to ask questions
and have answers posted almost immediately from scientists.
And we have a team of about 30 Alpine Fault specialists
who help us work on these sorts of engagement activities.
So we ask people who have the expertise
to respond to these questions.
Just trying to break down some of the things
that confuse people, I suppose,
the difference, for example,
between magnitude and intensity.
Just putting out some really clear and simple communication,
again, on social media platforms
to help people understand these things
and answer questions again as quickly as we can.
The AF8 Roadshow, this was the 2019 campaign,
and we took it to 12 communities
in the highest risk areas of the South Island.
What the roadshow involves is a community public meeting
and a number of schools visits.
So we have a schools program that we run.
This is the schedule that we did in this year, in 2021.
We went to an additional 14 communities.
So all up, we’ve reached 26 communities
around the South Island.
We take scientists on the road,
they do, they present their science at the public events,
and we have a educator who goes into the schools
to help children understand earthquakes,
but also what about how we can get better prepared
in our communities for this kind of an event.
And here’s an image there of the school’s work.
We have a beautiful block model of the South Island,
which we project down onto
in terms of putting the intensity model
and other things down onto that map
so that the kids can learn about the geography
of the South Island.
And the public events have been really well attended.
We’ve had hundreds of people come out
from these very small communities
and pack out their little community halls
to hear about the science of the Alpine Fault.
So, I just want to wrap up now with some final thoughts.
Of course, it’s a big, big challenge that we’re faced with
in terms of building, reducing risk,
and building resilience.
And as engineers, I know that your focus
is on doing the very best you can
to build strong infrastructure
and to improve the way that we do things in that respect.
Just, I guess, a few things to think about
in terms of understanding how we can do the best that we can
to do this job.
I think the importance
of trusted credible science and risk reduction
can’t be underestimated.
I think scientists as well, you know,
you need to get people who can talk in an engaging way
about their science, make it interesting,
show their passion for their science.
I think that really does make a difference
in terms of engaging agencies, ministries, embassies,
and communities about the sort of stuff.
You need to get the right sorts of scientists
in front of those sorts of public groups.
You know, science gives credibility.
It increases trust.
It’s required to inform decision-making,
and it’s incredibly important for engaging with the public.
Secondly, we have to learn from our experiences
from past disasters
to help us incrementally build societal resilience.
After the Canterbury earthquakes,
New Zealand made significant investments in science.
We’ve got two major science programs
that are focused on earthquake resilience in New Zealand,
and those are helping
to embed some of those lessons learned.
We are updating our building code.
We have rapid policy change that’s happened
as a consequence of recent earthquakes where we’ve,
for example, protecting life safety
by removing parapets from heritage buildings
or tying those back, and removing facades, et cetera,
and sort of tying back facades
so that we improve life safety.
So we have to learn,
we have to incrementally build societal resilience.
We have to invest in resilience and resilient infrastructure
before the next disaster,
which we know helps save money in the long-term.
If we invest early,
we have better outcomes after a disaster.
And similarly, we need to prepare our communities
before an event,
and that will help them recover
and respond to an event as well.
Thirdly, we need to work really hard
at communicating our science effectively.
Now we saw the visual of the earthquake
on the Alpine Fault earlier,
this is a screenshot taken from ABC International,
which was an Australian media company
who reported on the Alpine Fault this year in June.
They took that animation, they put it into a story map.
It got a huge amount of interest from the Australian public,
and we did a number of interviews.
So that image has really improved our reach
across not only New Zealand,
but into other parts of the world.
What it does is it helps people take people on the journey
and helps people make the decision
that they are going to take action,
that they are going to get better prepared
for themselves as individuals,
and hopefully to help their communities
get better prepared as well.
So science communication through these visual,
these engaging science communication tools
is really important part of this as well.
Interdisciplinarity and collaboration
is really important here.
I’d challenge you as engineers or geoscientists
to look around the table for your projects
and ask the question,
do we have a diverse enough group here?
Do we have women in our group?
Do we have people from other countries?
Do we have different ethnicities
represented in our project teams?
Because it makes a difference.
You know, when you have diverse views
on a challenging topic,
it makes a difference to have those voices around the table.
Not only that, we need engineers
to be working with communication designers,
we need communication designers
to be working with risk communication specialists.
We need social scientists involved
in science projects and engineering projects.
We all need to get around the table.
In New Zealand, we’re very fortunate.
We’ve got some quite large research programs,
which are really driving
the interdisciplinarity of our science in this domain,
and we’re very fortunate
to be able to do that in New Zealand.
And I’d encourage others around the world
to try and do the same.
And knowledge is power.
Globally, our communities are going to continue
to face uncertainty.
They need to be part of the conversation to find solutions.
It’s not good enough for us just to deliver science
to these communities anymore.
It’s not what they want.
They want to be of the conversation early,
and to get involved
and to get a sense of agency for themselves
in terms of the direction that their future is going to take.
And the example here is manage retreat.
That’s the terminology that we use in New Zealand
for a climate and a sea level rise hazard
where many of our communities are coastal,
and many of those are going to be threatened in the next,
the coming decades,
do we just tell them they have to leave their community?
That’s not going to work.
People are very tied to place.
They have a strong sense of place and community,
and they’re not going to want to be uplifted
without having some input on that decision.
And so these sorts of communities,
they need to be part of the conversation.
They need the knowledge to help inform that,
and so I’d encourage anyone doing these sorts of projects
to try and get out early in their timeframes
to talk to communities, get them involved early,
get some representation
so that they can be part of their conversation as well.
And finally, just a final slide showing some of our AF8 team
actually standing on the Alpine Fault.
This is the best exposure of the Alpine Fault
in south Westland at Gaunt Creek.
It was a really amazing journey for us
to go there as a team.
It was almost like a pilgrimage,
and an exciting day of being right on the plate boundary.
But really this picture is telling us
that it’s all about the people, the people on the team,
the people exposed to the risk presented by this hazard.
And I’d like to finish on a Maori proverb,
which speaks very much to this human dimension
of hazards and risks.
(Caroline speaking in Maori)
What is the most important thing in the world?
(Caroline speaking in Maori)
It is the people.
It is the people, it is the people.
Kia ora, thank you very much for listening.