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Research Highlights 2012-13

Riskscape module image

Building Riskscape on a generic risk framework has enabled its modular design.


A modular, multi-hazard regional risk evaluation programme developed in partnership between GNS Science and NIWA. It comprises three input components - hazards, inventory, and vulnerability - and an engine that integrates and inserts the resulting losses into the impact module. Link to RiskScape.


The hazard modules currently embedded into RiskScape simulate:

  • earthquake ground shaking
  • distal volcanic ash
  • tsunami inundation
  • flood inundation
  • extreme wind storms.


The inventory module replicates our community. It comprises assets fixed in location (i.e. buildings, contents, infrastructure) or that move about with time (i.e. people and vehicles).


A suite of vulnerability functions is provided for each inventory class. Vulnerability functions relate the impact (or loss) to the intensity of the hazard to which inventory items are exposed at specific locations.

The specific uses to which RiskScape will be applied are still evolving. Several toolboxes have been developed that enable users to enter their own data (both hazards and inventory) and to test the impacts of various planning and mitigation decisions. These include, for example, setting floor levels so as to avoid flood/tsunami inundation, creating new subdivisions on green fields previously unoccupied, or testing different levels of strengthening on earthquake- prone-buildings.

Over the past year we’ve added direct-loss fragility modules for three utility systems (road, electricity, water supply) that can be applied to flooding and are being calibrated for earthquake and volcanic ash. The shaking intensity or Modified Mercali Intensity model (MMI) has been modified to incorporate instrumental ground shaking intensity readings from GeoNet. A hydrological landslide hazard model has been developed and is undergoing testing. The first generation storm-tide inundation model, combining various sea-level rise and recurrence interval storm-tide levels is under evaluation for a pilot study area (Nelson). Proximal volcanic hazard models for lahar, pyroclastic surge and lava flow have also been identified and are being evaluated as to their suitability for introduction into RiskScape.

A three year project to address the “Lessons learned from Christchurch” will allow us to acquire and apply building damage and loss data with utility across engineering, insurance, regional planning and policy. It includes developing a NZ building typology catalogue, acquiring damage and consequential loss data experienced by sample buildings across Canterbury, and developing mechanical models for up to six dominant building types, comparing the fragility and vulnerability functions derived from these models.

Work is underway to develop a RiskScape-Probabilistic model wherein the risk from diverse hazards of differing likelihood and intensity can be compared. The development of this component has advanced over the past year and it is expected to provide a basis for prioritising mitigation measures across different communities on a common basis for perhaps the first time.

RiskScape Version 0.2.80 has been released for application to central and local government agencies.

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