The Mount Harper EarthquakeSeptember 22, 2023
Research Project Stories – Olga FilippovaOctober 4, 2023
Hills around Christchurch are covered in the fine, windblown, rock-dust known as loess. Loess can be quite strong, but it weakens when wet and has been implicated in slope failures. Katherine Yates was working as a consultant with Beca when she realised more information was needed for characterising these soils. Having studied Engineering Geology at the University of Canterbury, she returned there to complete a PhD on loess.
Katherine studied the shear strength of loess soils and how strength changes with water content. But there was more to learn about this enigmatic material. Katherine became interested in how loess behaves in earthquakes and under different climate regimes.
Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE has been part of Katherine’s life since she joined the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering – sharing the same floor may have had something to do with that! When she was looking to further her research, her mentor, Associate Professor Gabriele Chiaro, suggested she apply for a QuakeCoRE proposal development grant. Katherine says applying for the grant gave her useful practice in writing proposals and distilling ideas about her research interests.
As part of the QuakeCoRE grant, cyclic triaxial testing is underway on wet loess samples with support from colleagues Abilash Pokhrel and Sean Rees. These tests replicate earthquake shaking and provide information on how susceptible the material is to losing strength. Loess is unlikely to result in the bubbling, mud-pool liquefaction we witnessed in the Christchurch earthquakes, but its location on hills makes it prone to landsliding and slope instability when it loses strength.
This preliminary testing enabled Katherine to have a well-defined proposal that met with success when she applied for a Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. So, she’s now looking forward to liquefying more loess in the name of improving future slope stability assessments and land use planning.
Our annual Request for Proposals (RfP) supports eighteen-month, Associate Investigator led research projects that complement the Coordinated Research Projects within the Disciplinary Themes (DT) and Inter-disciplinary Projects (IP) of QuakeCoRE's Research Programme.
The RfP includes Proposal Development Grants which enable early career researchers to develop strong contestable external research proposals.
At the time of publishing, the annual call for RfP Projects, Masters and PhD Scholarships funding is open now, until midday, Wednesday 18 October 2023.
For more information visit the Opportunities page of our website, or contact email@example.com
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