Cost-Effective Mitigation Strategy Development for Building Related Earthquake Risk

Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety


The hazard earthquakes pose has only been recognised in the design of Australian buildings since 1995. This failure has resulted in the presence of many buildings that represent a high risk to property, life and economic activity. These buildings also contribute to most of the post-disaster emergency management logistics and community recovery needs following major earthquakes. This vulnerability was in evidence in the Newcastle earthquake of 1989, the Kalgoorlie earthquake of 2010 and with similar building types in the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. With an overall building replacement rate of two percent nationally, the legacy of vulnerable building persists in all cities and predominates in most business districts of lower growth regional centres.

This research project is drawing upon and extending existing research and capability within both academia and government to develop information that will inform policy, business and private individuals on their decisions concerning reducing vulnerability. It is also drawing upon New Zealand initiatives that make use of local planning as an instrument for effecting mitigation.

The project’s scope includes all typical building construction types in Australia as specified in the Australian Standard for Earthquake Loading AS 1170.4. It excludes special construction such as power plants, offshore structures and other industrial/manufacturing structures.

While the focus of this project is on buildings, many of the project outputs will also be relevant for other infrastructure such as bridges, roads and ports, while at the same time complementing other CRC projects for severe wind and flood.

This project will investigate the following topics:

  • Seismic performance and design philosophy of insitu and precast reinforced concrete walls and cores in Australia
  • Assessing the seismic performance of reinforced concrete gravity moment resisting frames in Australia
  • Seismic performance of transfer beam buildings in the regions of low to moderate seismicity

Key Outcomes

  • Existing buildings have been categorised and ranked according to their vulnerabilities.
  • Performance levels for the vulnerability assessment of critical buildings have been defined.
  • Simplified analytical method has been developed to provide drift demand estimates for the buildings.
  • Seismic vulnerability assessments have been conducted on three broad types of reinforced concrete structures (buildings with soft-storey, buildings with walls as major lateral load resisting systems, buildings with both reinforced concrete walls and moment resisting frames as lateral load resisting systems).

Major Activities for 2016 - 2017

  • Professor Nelson Lam, Associate Professor Helen Goldsworthy, Dr Elisa Lumantarna (3Aug2016 and 21Sep2016) attended project meeting with end user to discuss the core research program of the refreshed project running to Dec 2020
  • Dr Elisa Lumantarna participated at Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC / AFAC Annual Conference (30 Aug – 1 Sep 2016) in Brisbane, presenting research outcomes (refer to list of publications)
  • Professor Nelson Lam and research students participated at the Australasian Structural Engineering Conference in Brisbane (23 – 25 Nov 2016), presenting research outcomes (refer to list of publications)
  • Professor Nelson Lam, Associate Professor Helen Goldsworthy, Dr Elisa Lumantarna and research students participated at 2016 Australian Earthquake Engineering Society Conference in Melbourne (25 – 27 Nov 2016), presenting research outcomes  (refer to list of publications)
  • Dr Elisa Lumantarna participated at the 24th Australian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (6 – 9 Dec 2016), presenting research outcomes (refer to list of publications)

Research Team

Research Lead: Professor Michael Griffith

Research Staff: Professor Nelson Lam, Associate Professor Helen Goldsworthy, Dr. Elisa Lumantarna, Mr. Ryan Hoult, Ms. Anita Amirsardari

Research Partners and Collaborators

Research Collaborators: The University of Adelaide, Swinburne University of Technology, Geoscience Australia