Urban damage from the 2011 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Earthquake Damage Assessment



A pair of earthquakes six months apart caused significant damage to Christchurch. The 7.1-magnitude September 2010 earthquake caused significant damage but no fatalities. The 6.3-magnitude February 2011 quake resulted in 181 deaths and, partly because of its shallow depth and close proximity to the city center, more damage especially to the central business district. The February quake is considered the second deadliest disaster in the country’s history, with damage estimated to cost insurers NZ$16 billion. As of April 2011, 265 acres of the central business district were still cordoned off and accessible only to emergency personnel and authorized engineers.

Hardest hit were unreinforced masonry and nonductile reinforced concrete structures. In addition, liquefaction was widespread across the city and movement of sediment layers near the harbor resulted in significant displacement of marine structures.

We have been conducting damage assessments of a wide range of structures across the region to develop and review the scope of required repairs as well as demolition and reconstruction options. Because of the restricted access to the central business district, we are also assisting tenants and owners by providing them escorted access to retrieve personal and business items from damaged buildings. For insurance clients, we are also providing early assessment of the condition of buildings and contents to accelerate their evaluation of claims.

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