Strategies for strong motion earthquake recording in New Zealand

  • W. R. Stephenson Solid State Equipment Limited, Lower Hutt, New Zealand


The problem of how to record future strong earthquakes in New Zealand is examined by considering what data is required, how effective the present network will be in gathering that data, and what new technology is now available.

It is concluded that present methods result in an unsatisfactory use of funds. There is a current emphasis on frequent expert servicing which, while it leads to a high probability of any recorder operating, restricts the number of installations able to be serviced. Thus we have a high probability of any given recorder working, coupled with a small probability of any given earthquake being within range of a recorder.

The suggested future strategy is to first develop a new accelerograph of high reliability and the capability of self testing. This would incorporate a non volatile no moving parts electronic memory. Servicing of this would be at infrequent intervals, but a program of reporting the self test results by postcard would be adopted.

By thus cutting down on recorder servicing and record processing times, we could force the major factor to be capital cost, and thus allow the network to expand until a realistic probability of recording a major earthquake was reached. The installation of about 70 additional strong motion accelerographs in the main seismic region would allow a good chance of recording our next major earthquake.


Hefford, R. T., et al: "The New Zealand Strong Motion Earthquake Recorder Network" Proceedings of the South Pacific Regional Conference on Earthquake Engineering, V3, p 625, 1979.

Proceedings of the International Workshop on Strong-Motion Earthquake Instrument Arrays. May 2-5, 1978, Honolulu, Hawaii. Editor W. D. Iwan. Publisher California Institute of Technology.

How to Cite
Stephenson, W. R. (1979). Strategies for strong motion earthquake recording in New Zealand. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 12(3), 269-272.