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Mark Stirling 2019 imageChair of Earthquake Science

BSc, MSc (University of Otago), PhD (University of Nevada Reno)

  • Multidisciplinary seismic hazard modelling
  • Seismotectonics
  • Earthquake statistics
  • Tectonic geomorphology

Google Scholar: Mark Stirling
Tel +64 3 470 3539

Research interests

Mark is a seismologist with a multidisciplinary background in geology and seismology. He specialises in the integration of geological, seismological and geodetic datasets for seismotectonic and seismic hazard modelling. He moved to his present position at Otago in February 2016, and prior to that was a Principal Scientist at GNS Science. He has led the development of the last three versions of the national seismic hazard model for New Zealand (1998, 2002 and 2012), which is the hazard basis for the New Zealand Loadings Standard. He has worked extensively in industry-funded projects in the building construction, hydroelectric power, nuclear, and development aid sectors, and is widely recognised for his pioneering collaborative work with US colleagues on the use of historical and geological observations to validate seismic hazard models. He currently contributes to the development of national seismic and volcanic hazard models in New Zealand, applying the unifying principles of hazard modelling to these disparate perils. He has been the recipient of two Otto Glogau Awards from the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering for his publications, was Society President for the period 2004-2006, and was made a Fellow of the Society in 2007. He is currently an Associate Editor for the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, and has served on oversight committees for the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation over the period 2009-12.

More about earthquake science research at Otago

Postgraduate student research opportunities

View available research opportunities

Current students

  • Govinda Niroula (PhD) – Earthquake rupture simulation science

Past students

  • Anna Kowal (PhD, 2022) – Shear wave velocity model and ground motion simulations for Dunedin and Mosgiel
  • Jonathan Griffin (PhD, 2021) – Seismic source modelling of low seismicity regions: Otago case study
  • Aidan Meyer (Bsc(Hons, 2021)) – Paleoseismology of the Long Valley Fault, Central Otago
  • Ella van den Berg (MSc, 2020) – Paleoseismology of the Cardrona Fault, Central Otago, New Zealand
  • Ross Nicolls (MSc, 2020) – East Otago range front geomorphology; constraints on location and timing of fault activity
  • Alex Zhou (PGDipSci, 2020) – What lies beneath the University Campus
  • Catherine Sangster (MSc, 2019) – Strong motion seismology ground motion simulations in Dunedin CBD
  • Elliot Bowie (MSc, 2017) – Validations of ground motion simulations using precarious rocks
  • Andy Holt (MSc, 2017) – Analysis of and mapping of strata and overburden using seismology and other GIS techniques.
  • Briar Taylor-Silva (MSc, 2017) – Akatore Fault trenching
  • Asrid Vetrhus COP (MSc) – Earthquake-generated landslides in the Southern Alps


Seeback, H., Van Dissen, R., Litchfield, N., Barnes, P. M., Nicol, A., Langridge, R., … Stirling, M., … Lee, J. (2023). The New Zealand Community Fault Model, version 1.0: An improved geological foundation for seismic hazard modelling. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2023.2181362

Gerstenberger, M. C., Rhoades, D. A., Litchfield, N., Abbott, E., Goded, T., Christophersen, A., … Stirling, M. W., … Wallace, L. (2023). A time-dependent seismic hazard model following the Kaikōura M7.8 earthquake. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2022.2158881

Barrell, D. J. A., Stirling, M. W., Williams, J. N., Sauer, K. M., & van den Berg, E. J. (2022). Hundalee Fault, North Canterbury, New Zealand: Late Quaternary activity and regional tectonics. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2022.2153877

Williams, J., Stirling, M., Niroula, G., Vause, A., Stewart, J., Nicol, A., & Langridge, R. (2022). Along-strike extent of ruptures on geometrically complex reverse faults: Insights from paleoseismic investigations and physics-based earthquake simulations of the Nevis-Cardrona Fault system. In A. V. Zernack & J. Palmer (Eds.), Geoscience Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Publication. 161A, (pp. 307). Wellington, New Zealand: Geoscience Society of New Zealand. [Abstract]

Stirling, M., Williams, J., & Griffin, J. (2022). Earthquake source characterisation in southern New Zealand: An update. In A. V. Zernack & J. Palmer (Eds.), Geoscience Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Publication. 161A, (pp. 259). Wellington, New Zealand: Geoscience Society of New Zealand. [Abstract]

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