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Performance of levees (stopbanks) during the 4 September 2010 M (sub w) 7.1 Darfield and 22 February 2011 M (sub w) 6.2 Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes

Russell A. Green, John Allen, Liam Wotherspoon, Misko Cubrinovski, Brendon A. Bradley, Aaron Bradshaw, Brady Cox and Thomas Algie
Performance of levees (stopbanks) during the 4 September 2010 M (sub w) 7.1 Darfield and 22 February 2011 M (sub w) 6.2 Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes
Seismological Research Letters (November 2011) 82 (6): 939-949


The objective of this paper is to summarize the performance of the levees (or stopbanks) along the Waimakariri and Kaiapoi rivers during the 4 September 2010 Mw 7.1 Darfield and 22 February 2011 Mw 6.2 Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes. Shortly after their arrival in the Canterbury area in the mid-nineteenth century European settlers started constructing drainage systems and levees along rivers. In particular, flooding of the Waimakariri River and its tributaries posed a constant threat to the Christchurch and Kaiapoi areas. The current levee system is a culmination of several coordinated efforts that started in earnest in the 1930s and is composed of both primary and secondary levee systems. The primary levee system is designed for a 450-year flood. Damage estimates for scenarios where the flood protection system is breached have been assessed at approximately NZ$5 billion. As a result, the performance of the levee system during seismic events is of critical importance to the flood hazard in Christchurch and surrounding areas. During the 2010 Darfield and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, stretches of levees were subjected to motions with peak horizontal ground accelerations (PGAs) of approximately 0.32 g and 0.20 g, respectively. Consequently, in areas where the levees were founded on loose, saturated fluvial sandy deposits, liquefaction-related damage occurred (i.e., lateral spreading, slumping, and settlement). The performance summary presented herein is the result of field observations and analysis of aerial images, with particular focus on the performance of the levees along the eastern reach of the Waimakariri River and along the Kaiapoi River. In the sections that follow, we first present background information about the levee system. This is followed by an overview of the performance of the levees during the Darfield and Christchurch earthquakes. Next, we discuss the relationship between the severity of damage to the levees along the downtown stretch of the Kaiapoi River and the response of the foundation soils. Finally, we present a summary of the findings and draw conclusions.

ISSN: 0895-0695
EISSN: 1938-2057
Serial Title: Seismological Research Letters
Serial Volume: 82
Serial Issue: 6
Title: Performance of levees (stopbanks) during the 4 September 2010 M (sub w) 7.1 Darfield and 22 February 2011 M (sub w) 6.2 Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquakes
Affiliation: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Blacksburg, VA, United States
Pages: 939-949
Published: 20111112
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, El Cerrito, CA, United States
References: 12
Accession Number: 2012-014185
Categories: SeismologyEngineering geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
S43°32'60" - S43°32'60", E172°40'00" - E172°40'00"
Secondary Affiliation: TRI Environmental, USA, United StatesUniversity of Auckland, NZL, New ZealandUniversity of Canterbury, NZL, New ZealandUniversity of Rhode Island, USA, United StatesUniversity of Arkansas, USA, United StatesPartners in Performance, AUS, Australia
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201208
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