BLACKSBURG, VA. —” Russell Green of the Charles E. Via, Jr., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, is leading the National Science Foundation-sponsored Geo-engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance Team as it travels to Christchurch, New Zealand, to document the effects of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that occurred on Feb 22. The team will focus on documenting geotechnical effects of extreme events as part of the U.S. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

Green, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, is leading the investigation of the earthquake’s geotechnical impacts. Other team members are: John Allen, TRI Environmental Inc.; Glenn Rix, Georgia Tech; Donald Wells, AMEC Geomatrix; Thomas O’Rourke, Cornell University; Aaron Bradshaw, University of Rhode Island; and Clinton Wood, University of Arkansas.

Green, Allen, and O’Rourke also were on the previous reconnaissance team that investigated the Sept. 4, 2010, magnitude 7.1 Darfield earthquake in New Zealand. The team members will work in close collaboration with their New Zealand colleagues from the University of Canterbury and the University of Auckland. Additionally, the team is coordinating its efforts with teams organized by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Technical Committee on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering.

Green spent five years as an earthquake engineer for the U.S. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in Washington, D.C., prior to becoming a university professor. Part of his responsibility at the safety board was to perform seismic safety analyses on the nation’s defense nuclear facilities. Green’s concerns and expertise in earthquake engineering earned him a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2006 valued at more than $400,000. He has used this to support the development of procedures for collecting and analyzing data required for assessing the seismic hazard in regions where moderate to large earthquakes would have significant consequences, yet they remain low probability events.

The team members have been in close contact with engineers and scientists already in Christchurch, New Zealand, the site of the earthquake. Most of the team arrived in Christchurch on March 1, at which time they began work with their New Zealand
colleagues to perform field investigations. The team worked in the field until March 6, with the initial plan to focus efforts on: building foundation response, liquefaction and other ground failures, performance of bridges and other lifelines, performance of port facilities, and slope failures.

For more information, visit www.eng.vt/edu.