Thread: PhD Fellowship: New Zealand Earthquake and Tsunami Early Warning and Tsunami hazards

Started: 2020-02-03 00:23:39
Last activity: 2020-02-03 00:23:39
Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Open Until: 2020-02-28

We seek two highly motivated students for two separate 3-year PhD scholarships supported through the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge (
These are part of a wider “earthquake and tsunami theme project” to develop physics-based models of virtual earthquakes enabling new avenues of research to assess and forecast a range of hazards including ground shaking, liquefaction, landslides and tsunami throughout New Zealand and involving two Crown Research Institutions, four universities, >10 primary researchers and six PhD students.

One PhD research project involves testing the physical capabilities and exploring the utilities of earthquake early warning (EEW) and tsunami early warning (TEW) algorithms within the New Zealand (NZ) context. The objectives will be to quantify the efficiency of the algorithms for these two perils. The student will consider current NZ seismic and geodetic networks, ocean pressure and tide monitoring stations, limited ground motion prediction equation (GMPE) availability, limited real-time information and effectiveness of warning times within the context of civil defence and response infrastructure. He/she will also attempt to determine whether additional monitoring stations in key locations would be able to make a significant difference to warning times.
The student will be supervised by Prof. Martha Savage (VUW), Caroline Holden (GNS Science) and SJ McCurrach (NZ Ministry of Civil Defence. The students will also interact with key external advisors: Dr Julia Becker (Massey University) and Kim Wright (NZ Ministry of Civil Defence).

The other project will involve simulating coastal wave-heights caused by the tsunamigenic events in synthetic earthquake catalogues and processing the results to evaluate the probabilistic tsunami hazard at the coast. One study site will be chosen for more detailed tsunami inundation studies, and for this site we will calculate onshore inundation depths and currents in detail. Probabilistic tsunami inundation hazard assessment (PTHA) requires many numerically-intensive simulations, which is why we focus on one study site. In order to undertake a PTHA for a larger proportion of the country we need to develop concepts and algorithms for reducing the number of, or more rapidly approximating, the simulations needed. A large part of this PhD will involve investigating different potential methods for doing this.
They will be supervised by Prof. Martha Savage and Richard Arnold (VUW), William Power (GNS Science) and Emily Lane (NIWA).

The students will be expected to enrol as a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). GNS Science is a government-owned institution undertaking research in the Earth Sciences and related disciplines. VUW was ranked first in New Zealand in Earth Sciences. Information on the department is available here ( Further information on the projects is available here Prospective candidates must have a strong background in geoscience and computing (some mathematics, physics, statistics and/or seismology experience is desirable), an interest in social sciences for the EEW/TEW project, be proficient in one or more scientific programming languages (Matlab, Python, etc.), and have completed (or be expected to complete) a Master’s or equivalent degree by the start of the PhD programme. Full details of Victoria University’s eligibility criteria are available from the Faculty of Graduate Research website and A generous scholarship will be provided.

Applications including an up-to-date curriculum vitae, referee reports and evidence of previous study should be submitted via the Faculty of Graduate Research website ( by 28 February 2020. The start date is flexible but will be no later than 31 December, 2020.

Please direct all questions to:

Martha Savage, Martha.Savage<at>, Caroline Holden c.holden<at> or SJ McCurrach, sarah-jayne.McCurrach<at> (EEW&TEW)

Martha Savage, Martha.Savage<at>, William Power w.power<at>, or Emily Lane Emily.Lane<at> (Tsunami hazards)

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