From physical disruption to community impact: Modelling a Wellington Fault earthquake

Charlotte Brown, Garry McDonald, S. R. Uma, Nicky Smith, Vinod Sadashiva, Rob Buxton, Emily Grace, Erica Seville, Michelle Daly

Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, December 2019, Vo1 23, No. 2. pp. 65-75.


Modelling the economic impact of an earthquake event provides a means to support decision-making for investment options to improve disaster preparedness. Quantification of economic impact requires a comprehensive understanding of how damage to physical assets such as buildings and infrastructure networks translates into disruption to, and impact on, communities and businesses. This paper describes how a scenario narrative was developed as an essential prerequisite for an ex-ante economic assessment of a Wellington Fault event in Aotearoa New Zealand. The approach begins with the development of a suite of infrastructure asset damage and restoration maps, which account for infrastructure interdependencies. This data is then translated, based on expert elicitation processes, into a range of post-earthquake behaviours including population displacement, business disruption and relocation, and tourism effects. Lastly, these behaviours are set up as inputs for a novel economic model that captures out-of-equilibrium dynamics and behavioural adaptation. This narrative, alongside the economic modelling component, has been used to support decision-making around regional infrastructure resilience investment.

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