Project AF8 Quake Response Planning Launched

 In News

Developing a coordinated response to an Alpine Fault rupture to assist and enhance community resilience across the South Island.

Project AF8, the concerted collaborative effort to assess and plan for the impact of a Magnitude 8 rupture of the Alpine Fault, is now underway.

A two day workshop in Christchurch in late August launched the largest joint earthquake resilience and response project in New Zealand. The workshop brought together 35 of New Zealand’s top scientists involved in Alpine Fault research, along with Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) leaders, to develop the initial magnitude 8 earthquake scenario to be used for future planning.

The workshop was organised by Dr Caroline Orchiston of Otago University, who is leading the Risk workstream of Project AF8. Dr Orchiston said, ‘Project AF8 has started with a bang, bringing together science and emergency management to come up with a credible scenario for an Alpine fault rupture and to define the impacts that will affect the South Island’.

The workshop was facilitated by Jon Mitchell, one of New Zealand’s leading disaster management planners and the recently appointed Project AF8 Programme Manager, supported by Angus McKay chair of the Project AF8 steering group.

Mr McKay said, ‘On the basis of what we already know about the Alpine Fault, we can expect that it will probably rupture in the lifetime of people alive today and we need to be prepared to respond to that disaster. I am delighted with the level of collaboration, commitment and desire to see this project succeed by everyone who took partover the last two days.’

The scenario assumes a rupture of a 400km section of the Southern part of the Alpine Fault that would cause death, injuries, damage and disruption in the regions closest to the epicentre, as well as shaking and disruption throughout the whole of the South Island.

Project AF8 is jointly owned by the 6 South Island CDEM Groups, which includes all 28 local councils, and is funded by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management’s Resilience Fund.

Once the scenario has been fully developed, planning workshops will be held across the South Island through to June 2017. These will involve local and central government Civil Defence Emergency Management, infrastructure providers, emergency services, hospital and health, non-government organisations, experts from Otago, Canterbury, Massey, Victoria and Auckland universities, and representatives of communities and key business sectors.

Mr Mitchell said Project AF8 brought together learnings and experience from the Canterbury earthquake responses and significant disasters elsewhere, and represented a turning-point in emergency planning in New Zealand. “We are setting aside the now-disproven generic approach to planning for “all-hazards” to planning for the major hazards that our communities face. Earthquakes are the highest priority hazard across the South Island due to their likelihood and, in particular, the consequences they bring with them. This project is risk-based emergency management planning in action.”