Earthquake Hazard and Risk in New Zealand

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Edwin V Apel, Marleen Nyst, Delphine D Fitzenz and Gilbert Molas, Risk Management Solutions, Inc., Newark, CA, United States
To quantify risk in New Zealand we examine the impact of updating the seismic hazard model. The previous RMS New Zealand hazard model is based on the 2002 probabilistic seismic hazard maps for New Zealand (Stirling et al., 2002). The 2015 RMS model, based on Stirling et al., (2012) will update several key source parameters. These updates include: implementation a new set of crustal faults including multi-segment ruptures, updating the subduction zone geometry and reccurrence rate and implementing new background rates and a robust methodology for modeling background earthquake sources. The number of crustal faults has increased by over 200 from the 2002 model, to the 2012 model which now includes over 500 individual fault sources. This includes the additions of many offshore faults in northern, east-central, and southwest regions. We also use the recent data to update the source geometry of the Hikurangi subduction zone (Wallace, 2009; Williams et al., 2013). We compare hazard changes in our updated model with those from the previous version. Changes between the two maps are discussed as well as the drivers for these changes. We examine the impact the hazard model changes have on New Zealand earthquake risk. Considered risk metrics include average annual loss, an annualized expected loss level used by insurers to determine the costs of earthquake insurance (and premium levels), and the loss exceedance probability curve used by insurers to address their solvency and manage their portfolio risk. We analyze risk profile changes in areas with large population density and for structures of economic and financial importance. New Zealand is interesting in that the city with the majority of the risk exposure in the country (Auckland) lies in the region of lowest hazard, where we don’t have a lot of information about the location of faults and distributed seismicity is modeled by averaged Mw-frequency relationships on area sources. Thus small changes to the background rates can have a large impact on the risk profile for the area. Wellington, another area of high exposure is particularly sensitive to how the Hikurangi subduction zone and the Wellington fault are modeled. Minor changes on these sources have substantial impacts for the risk profile of the city and the country at large.