Sara McBride Sara K. McBride

PhD Title:

Learnings from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence in New Zealand to inform public education design for other lower seismic hazard zones


The Canterbury Earthquake Sequence surprised many residents and officials in the Canterbury region. Given the perception that Canterbury was a low risk for significant earthquakes, buildings and infrastructure had not been built up to a higher standard, such as in Wellington.  This event has caused the international community to reflect on states of personal and infrastructure preparedness throughout the world. One place, in Eastern Washington, has a high number of unreinforced masonry buildings, similar to those found in Christchurch and very little reinforced infrastructure. Work commissioned by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is revealing that the seismic risk is much higher than previously thought, similar to Christchurch.

This research project aims to evaluate the public education campaign efforts prior to the Canterbury Earthquake sequence and examine lessons learned from the outcome of those campaigns.  After an analysis has been completed, a public education model will be created and piloted in five communities in Eastern Washington (Ellensburg, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Dayton).  After the pilot campaigns have been completed, a quantitative study will be carried out over the three and six month time period to determine action of individuals and key stakeholder groups.  A follow up qualitative study will be completed in two of the five communities to determine the success of the new public education model. 

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