RSES PhD student, Muriel Naguit, has been highly commended for her research into earthquake hazards.
The award was given as part of the 2016 International Conference on Building Resilience, held in Auckland.
Muriel's research is supervised by Phil Cummins, and aims to understand the risks in southeast Asia caused by large earthquakes.
To understand how much destruction and death might be caused by future earthquakes in SE Asia, we need to learn about not only the earthquakes themselves, but also about the buildings they might damage. Although the high level of earthquake activity and dense, vulnerable populations make SE Asia a hotspot for earthquake risk, we know remarkably little about just how fragile the buildings are. Muriel's PhD research attempts to fill this crucial knowledge gap by undertaking a detailed study of a Mw 7.1 earthquake that occurred in Bohol, the Philippines, in 2013. Around 58,000 buildings were damaged in the Bohol earthquake, but in order to assess building fragility Muriel also needed to know about construction types, ages, and proportions of damaged vs. undamaged buildings. So she conducted a detailed survey of Bohol that gave her a good statistical picture of the damage, and combined this with detailed modeling of the ground motions caused by the earthquake. The result was the first model for building fragility in the Philippines, and one of the first in SE Asia, based on actual earthquake damage data. This will help future assessments of seismic risk determine just what the impacts of earthquakes are likely to be, and will hopefully guide mitigation efforts.