The effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and Canterbury Earthquake Sequence are discussed with respect to their impact on regional and international economics, national practices for security and recovery, and worldwide energy policy. The lecture explains why these events require a fundamental re-thinking of the way we evaluate the risks of extreme events, as well as define and protect critical infrastructure. The impact of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence on the underground infrastructure in Christchurch is explored with the use of an extraordinary GIS data set covering the effects of both liquefaction-induced permanent ground deformation and transient ground motion for 3 different earthquakes. Lessons learned from Christchurch for Wellington, NZ and San Francisco, CA are discussed. To address the need for protection against rare, high consequence events with limited financial resources, a strategy for improving infrastructure resilience is proposed.
Dr. Thomas D. O’Rourke is the Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. O’Rourke received a number of distinctions for his research and teaching, some of which are ASTM C.A. Hogentogler Award, ASCE Collingwood, Huber Research, C. Martin Duke, Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering, and Ralph B. Peck Awards, and the British ICE Trevithick Prize. Dr. O’Rourke gave the 2009 Rankine Lecture. Dr. O’Rourke served as President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Dr. O’Rourke authored or coauthored over 350 technical publications. Dr. O’Rourke’s research interests cover geotechnical engineering, earthquake engineering, underground construction technologies, engineering for large, geographically distributed systems, and geographic information technologies and database management. Dr. O’Rourke served on many national advisory committees, including the NIST Advisory Committee for Earthquake Hazards Reduction, NAE Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects, and NSF Engineering Advisory Committee. Dr. O’Rourke has served as chair or member of the consulting boards of many large civil construction projects, as well as the peer reviews for projects associated with highway, rapid transit, water supply, and energy distribution systems.