Background on AS1170.4 ‘Structural design actions, Part 4: Earthquake actions in Australia’

Throughout much of the past decade, our industry showed concern over Australia’s National Construction Code and the lack thereof in responsibilities over earthquake actions in newly built structures across Australia. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission published an article in 2019 titled ‘Designing and building to accommodate earthquake loads’ that highlights reasons why Australia must comply with the already existing earthquake standards AS1170.4 – originally published in 1993.

Australia sits on the Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary (a convergent boundary comprising of the Australian and Pacific plates which push against one another), and while we are not often subject to severe earthquakes, Australia is not immune to regular earthquake activity. Let us not forget about the 1989 earthquake in Newcastle which resulted in the tragic death of 13 people and saw more than 160 people injured.

To provide some context of recent quake activity, in 2020 Australia experienced 3,379 earthquakes – 153 of which measured over 5.0 magnitude.

I think this paint’s a picture as to why seismic compliance obligations must be enforced in the design of structural and non-structural components.

Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary Photo credit: Geonet

Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary

Newcastle Earthquake 1989

Newcastle Earthquake, 1989