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2006 Tri-Center Field Mission Visits New Zealand

The NSF-sponsored 2006 Tri-Center Field Mission took a group of 13 students and 5 educators/administrators from the three Earthquake Engineering Research Centers (EERC); MCEER, MAE and PEER,  to New Zealand, the site of one of the most seismically and volcanically active regions in the world.  The field mission took place August 15-23, 2006.  The team, led by Professor S. Thevanayagam (MCEER), included four MCEER SLC members:  Shuichi Fujikura, Dong Wang, Gian Paolo Cimellaro, and Michael Pollino (all from University at Buffalo). 

REU attendees in outdoor setting

Field Mission Participants entering into Arthur's Pass

See more photos : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The group’s first site visit was to the city of Christchurch, located on New Zealand’s South Island, where they visited the University of Canterbury (UC).  Professor John Mander, chair of structural engineering, organized a research exchange among students from the three EERCs and students from Canterbury.  Each of the EERC students gave presentations pertaining to their research along with 9 students from UC.  The topics of students’ research included Geotechnical Engineering and Special Topics, Structural Control, Structures, and Rocking Structures.  Many other faculty members from UC also participated in the visit.  The group was led on a tour of the civil engineering department’s laboratory facilities that included demonstration shake table tests and quasi-static tests of post-tensioned beam-column connections [see photos 2 and 3].  While on the South Island, the group was led by Dr. John Mander to some beautiful scenic areas in the Southern Alps traveling through Arthur’s Pass [see photo 1].  The group stopped at the Otira Viaduct [see photos 4 and 5] which crosses one of the largest seismic faults on the South Island.

Travel continued to Wellington, the country’s capitol, located on New Zealand’s North Island.  The first visit in Wellington was to the Geological and Nuclear Sciences Research Institute (GNS) where Field Mission participants were given presentations by GNS researchers regarding seismic hazard modeling, their active faults database, volcanoes, and loss modeling, among others.  The program at GNS was arranged by Dr. Andrew King, Section Manager.  The group was then led on technical sight seeing tours along the Wellington fault line and of structures in Wellington designed for protection against earthquakes.  The structures included the Thorndon Motorway which passes directly over the Wellington fault and therefore is designed to protect against fault rupture.  Participants then traveled to the University of Victoria in Wellington campus to visit the Rankin Brown Library Building which was retrofitted with base isolation techniques using elastomeric, lead-core bearings.  The group was also given a tour of the site of the new Wellington Hospital which was under construction at the time of the visit.  The structure is seismically designed as a base isolated building using a combination of flat friction and elastomeric bearings [see photos 6 and 7].

The group left Wellington by motor coach, stopping at a few unique places, en route to Auckland. In the town of Rotorua, the group was treated to a traditional Maori tribal feast and concert.  The following day, they visited Te Puia, a Maori Cultural and Geothermal visitors center.  Before leaving for Auckland the group attended an Agrodome Sheep Show and visited the Waitomo Caves.  The sheep show displayed 19 breeds of sheep raised in New Zealand, provided a sheep shearing demonstration, and a sheep dog demonstration.  The Waitomo Caves are world famous for the glowworms that live there.

The final stop was the city of Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand [see photo 8].  A site visit to the University of Auckland was arranged by Professors Michael Pender and Sri Sritharan.  Students from the EERC’s and the University of Auckland gave research presentations that stimulated discussion between students and educators.  The group was also given a tour of the experimental laboratory facilities and attended a lunch time lecture that was part of the University’s engineering seminars.  While in Auckland, participants visited Sky Tower [see photo 9] and hiked to the top of Rangitoto Island.

Students are preparing reports focusing on different aspects of earthquake engineering based on new insights they gained from the Field Mission. More information and a photo journal of the trip will be posted on the SLC website. The 2007 Field Mission is being planned by PEER.


nsf logoThis Program is sponsored by the three National Science Foundation Earthquake Engineering Research Centers:
MAE logo
Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAE)
MCEER logo

PEER logo
Pacific Earthquake Center (PEER)