Working together to improve understanding of Australia's earthquake hazard

20 March 2017

Geoscience Australia has welcomed experts from across Australia and New Zealand for a workshop to share their knowledge and perspectives on seismic hazard in Australia, for input into the next iteration of the National Seismic Hazard Assessment.

Dr Trevor Allen, leader of the National Seismic Hazard Assessment (NSHA) project, said he and his colleagues were extremely pleased that the Australian earthquake hazard and engineering community, including members of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, had responded to the call to contribute to the NSHA.

"By drawing upon the collective knowledge and expertise from across Australasia, this helps ensure the final hazard assessment will be even more robust," Dr Allen explained.

The latest knowledge gathered will be incorporated into the NSHA, which in turn is intended to support required updates to the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC). The NCC outlines the minimum technical requirements for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia, which take into consideration known climate, geological and geographic conditions, including earthquakes.

The workshop is part of an ongoing collaboration with New Zealand's GNS Science to build Australia's capacity and expertise to better assess uncertainties in future seismic hazard assessments. This uncertainty can be assessed through a process that weighs the opinion of each expert based on their knowledge and ability to judge relevant uncertainties within the subject area, a technique that Geoscience Australia's counterparts from GNS Science have significant expertise in.

"It was certainly quite challenging for everyone to participate in this process, yet by the end of the workshop, we all felt positive that the process will develop a more comprehensive picture of earthquake hazard for Australia," Dr Allen said.

Global best practice is also influencing Australia's next iteration of the National Seismic Hazard Assessment through Geoscience Australia's long-term partnership supporting development of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM). Australia will use GEM's OpenQuake Engine software to develop the 2018 National Seismic Hazard Assessment, which many of our neighbours, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, are also using for their national seismic hazard assessments. Application of OpenQuake across our region will ultimately lead to a more consistent and cooperative approach to seismic hazard assessment through the use of standardised methods and models.

Group photo of participants from the National Seismic Hazard Assessment workshop in Canberra
Seismic hazard experts met in Canberra to update Australia's National Seismic Hazard Assessment

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