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QuakeNZ: Detailed New Zealand Earthquake Loss Model

New Zealand is subjected to significant levels of seismic hazard and seismic risk because of its location on the plate boundary between the Australian and Pacific Plates.

It is currently experencing a phase of elevated seismic activity, which began with the occurrence in 2010 of the magnitude 7.0 Darfield earthquake, soon followed in 2011 by the much smaller magnitude 6.2 earthquake which was nevertheless much more damaging because it occurred directly beneath Christchurch; the total economic loss of this earthquake sequence is estimated to have been $NZ 40B. Since then, a much larger earthquake, the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, occurred in the region between Christchurch and Wellington in 2016.

QuakeNZ Model Overview

QuakeNZ is a national earthquake model for New Zealand. It implements an earthquake forecast model for crustal, slab and subduction interface earthquakes, and uses a ground motion prediction model for all three of these earthquake source categories. Ground motion amplification uses a New Zealand-wide soil site classification. Damage is calculated using the full building response spectrum for residential, commercial and industrial property. In addition to calculating losses from earthquake shaking, it also calculates losses from soil liquefaction.

QuakeNZ incorporates data from GNS Science’s National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM12), It implements the earthquake forecast model for crustal, slab and subduction interface earthquakes in NSHM12, which includes a spatially distributed seismicity model and a set of potentially active faults.

Using a 50,000 year event set within a Monte Carlo simulation framework, RF’s QuakeNZ2 calculates Probable Maximum Losses (PML) as a function of Average Return Interval (ARI) or Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) throughout New Zealand.

QuakeNZ Features

Screening Approach?

Liquefaction damage is estimated using an efficient screening approach.

Capacity Spectrum Method

To estimate losses, QuakeNZ uses the capacity spectrum method, with fragility curves that are derived from building-specific capacity curves for a wide range of NZ building construction types and vintages, and from event-and-site-specific broadband response spectra. Other model developers ignore the event-specific dependence of response spectra on earthquake magnitude and distance and so their loss estimates are less reliable.

NZ Specific Financial Module

The financial module can take into account NZ specific requirements such as the Earthquake Commission deductibles and the calculation of regulatory probable maximum losses.

Who can utilise QuakeNZ?


QuakeNZ was developed by Australian seismologists and engineers who frequently visit New Zealand, especially after damaging eartquakes, and are familar with local conditions in New Zealand.

Emergency Response Organisations

Risk Frontiers personnel were shaken by some of the largest earthquake loss events in recent years, including the magnitude 7.0 1989 Loma Prieta (San Francisco Bay Area; $US 6B) and magnitude 6.7 Northridge (Los Angeles; $US 44B) earthquakes, and the magnitude 7.0 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquake ($US 100B). Direct experience of such events provides insights into the interconnectedness of lifeline systems and the many ways in which failure of one can severely impact the effectiveness of others. This experience is valuable for the preparation emergency response plans that must take account of these interdependencies.


Risk Frontiers is familiar with the utility systems that operate in New Zealand and can obtain scenario-based estimates of losses from events that impact distributed utility systems.

QuakeNZ Technical Specifications

Hazard Resolution – Ground Shaking

Variable resolution, down to 500m

Hazard Resolution – Liquefaction


Exposure Resolution

Location Address Level

Event Catalogue

50,000 years of stochastic earthquakes

Ground Shaking, Liquefaction and Exposure Parameters

Location, full acceleration demand spectrum, soil type, building construction type, building age, building height.

Line of Business

Residential / Commercial / Industrial

Business Interruption

Commercial / Industrial


All Properties on mainland New Zealand
Risk Frontiers Risk Engineer

Behnam Beheshtian, Risk Engineer

Learn More About QuakeNZ

Get the opportunity to speak with the team who developed the QuakeNZ model. 

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