Skip to main content

Science response to the 2016 Kaikōura tsunami


In response to the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami, the Aotearoa-New Zealand tsunami research community sprang into action. This network of researchers provided advice around immediate tsunami risk and then collaborated to investigate various aspects of the tsunami. A coordinated effort across institutions and disciplines was needed to achieve the desired scientific goals while respecting the priorities of emergency services and affected communities. Although this moderate-sized tsunami caused little damage, the event occurred in a region vulnerable to future tsunamis and therefore presents valuable lessons.

The authors of this paper were personally involved in the science response, and they present the successes and valuable lessons experienced by the tsunami research community and compare these with guidelines for international post-tsunami field surveys for larger events. A key success of the response was the ability to mobilise quickly because of the pre-existing relationships between science agencies and emergency response agencies. The authors acknowledge that the science response would have been tested if the event was larger and acknowledge the need for greater planning and coordination of disaster science response.


Emergency management relevance

This research assesses the post-tsunami engagement between scientists and emergency managers, providing an understanding of roles and responsibilities during a tsunami response.


Additional information

Authors: Emily Lane, Kristie-Lee Thomas, Marion Schoenfeld, Thomas Wilson, Matthew Hughes

Date: 2020

Funders: NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi, Natural Hazard Research Platform and Resilience to Nature's Challenges

Format: Published - International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction

Reference: Lane, E. M., Thomas, K., Schoenfeld, M. R., Wilson, T. M., & Hughes, M. W. (2020). The scientific response to the 14 November 2016 Kaikōura tsunami – lessons learnt from a moderate event. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 47, 101636.