Geotechnical reconnaissance of the 2010 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake




On 4 September 2010, a magnitude Mw 7.1 earthquake struck the Canterbury region on the South Island of New Zealand. The epicentre of the earthquake was located in the Darfield area about 40 km west of the city of Christchurch. Extensive damage was inflicted to lifelines and residential houses due to widespread liquefaction and lateral spreading in areas close to major streams, rivers and wetlands throughout Christchurch and Kaiapoi. Unreinforced masonry buildings also suffered extensive damage throughout the region. Despite the severe damage to infrastructure and residential houses, fortunately, no deaths occurred and only two injuries were reported in this earthquake. From an engineering viewpoint, one may argue that the most significant aspects of the 2010 Darfield Earthquake were geotechnical in nature, with liquefaction and lateral spreading being the principal culprits for the inflicted damage.

Following the earthquake, an intensive geotechnical reconnaissance was conducted to capture evidence and perishable data from this event. The surveys were performed on foot, by car and from a helicopter over a period of six days. A broad-brush field reconnaissance was conducted in the first two days, followed by pin-point investigations at specific locations including detailed site inspections and field testing using: Dynamic Cone Penetration Test (DCPT), Swedish Weight Sounding (SWS), and Spectral Analysis of Surface Waves (SASW).

This paper summarizes the observations and preliminary findings from this early reconnaissance work.


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How to Cite

Cubrinovski, M., Green, R. A., Allen, J., Ashford, S., Bowman, E., Bradley, B., Cox, B., Hutchinson, T., Kavazanjian, E., Orense, R., Pender, M. ., Quigley, M., & Wotherspoon, L. (2010). Geotechnical reconnaissance of the 2010 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 43(4), 243–320.