Geotechnical aspects of the Mw6.2 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquake

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



The 22 February 2011, Mw6.2 Christchurch earthquake is the most costly earthquake to affect New Zealand, causing an estimated 181 fatalities and severely damaging thousands of residential and commercial buildings. This paper presents a summary of some of the observations made by the NSF-sponsored GEER Team regarding the geotechnical/geologic aspects of this earthquake. The Team focused on documenting the occurrence and severity of liquefaction and lateral spreading, performance of building and bridge foundations, buried pipelines and levees, and significant rockfalls and landslides. Liquefaction was pervasive and caused extensive damage to residential properties, water and wastewater networks, high-rise buildings, and bridges. Entire neighborhoods subsided, resulting in flooding that caused further damage. Additionally, liquefaction and lateral spreading resulted in damage to bridges and to stretches of levees along the Waimakariri and Kaiapoi Rivers. Rockfalls and landslides in the Port Hills damaged several homes and caused several fatalities. © 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Publication Title

Geotechnical Special Publication


225 GSP