Home Natural Hazard Management Natural hazards research crucial to New Zealand safety

Natural hazards research crucial to New Zealand safety

New Zealand can sometimes be a dangerous place to live within but important research into flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural hazards will ensure the nation is well-prepared and able to recover quickly from such events. The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology recently announced the results of its Natural Physical Hazards investment round. Twelve research programmes from around the country will share $13.8m per annum of investment to carry out crucial research. The contracts range from two to six years in length.

The research aims to increase the ability of people to be prepared for natural hazards and recover more quickly from their consequences. The new programmes include the creation of a digital hazards database, studies of active volcanoes in the North Island, research into social and economic recovery after hazard events, and effective new hazard prediction techniques. The Foundation’s Group Manager of Investment Operations, Peter Benfell, says today’s investment announcement is timely.

“Two of New Zealand’s largest natural hazards in the last 50 years have occurred within the timeframe of this funding round; the Fiordland earthquake last August that had a magnitude of 7.0; and the massive flooding that took place in late February,” says Peter.

“Consequently, it is significant that we are able to fund some excellent research that will focus on understanding the responses that occurred during these events and look at what options New Zealand could instigate to minimise future losses from such events.

In its decision-making process, the Foundation took into account legislation such as the Civil Defence Emergency Act, the Resource Management Act and the Local Government Act.

In one of the researches under the programme, a digital database of New Zealand geology, including natural hazards, is being created by the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited, thanks to investment of $11.3m over six years from the Foundation. ‘QMAP: Geological Map of New Zealand’ is being produced with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) software to become a definitive record of New Zealand geology, incorporating modern concepts and current data. QMAP is an ongoing project, which has been funded by the Foundation since 1994, and today’s investment announcement will allow the project to be completed. The QMAP data will be used for identifying geological hazards, for mineral, groundwater and petroleum resource exploration, and for education. Key users include central, regional and local government, mineral and petroleum exploration companies, insurance and utility companies, universities, consultants and the general public. The geological mapping will be supported by geological basement research in poorly-known and complex parts of southwest and eastern New Zealand. This research also underpins assessment of New Zealand’s mineral wealth and hydrocarbon resources, as well as natural physical hazards.