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Professor Mark W. Stirling

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

Email mark.stirling@otago.ac.nz
Google Scholar: Mark Stirling
ORCID orcid.org/0000-0002-2562-4675
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.

Research news

To find out about the latest activities of the Earthquake Science Chair and working group, visit the Otago earthquake science website:

Postgraduate student research opportunities

View available research opportunities

Current students

  • Ross Nicolls (MSc) – East Otago range front geomorphology; constraints on location and timing of fault activity
  • Ella van den Berg (MSc) – Paleoseismology of the Cardrona Fault, Central Otago, New Zealand
  • Alex Zhou (PGDipSci) – What lies beneath the University Campus
  • Anna Kowal (PhD) – Shear wave velocity model and ground motion simulations for Dunedin and Mosgiel
  • Jonathan Griffin (PhD) – Seismic source modelling of low seismicity regions: Otago case study
  • Samantha Allan (PhD) – Geometry and seismic hazards of the Himalayan Frontal Thrust, Nepal

Past students

  • 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

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Publications

Todd, E. K., Stirling, M. W., Fry, B., Salichon, J., & Villamor, P. (2020). Characterising microseismicity in a low seismicity region: Applications of short-term broadband seismic arrays in Dunedin, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1707238

Taylor-Silva, B. I., Stirling, M. W., Litchfield, N. J., Griffin, J. D., van den Berg, E. J., & Wang, N. (2020). Paleoseismology of the Akatore Fault, Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 63(2), 151-167. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1645706

Goded, T., Gerstenberger, M., Stirling, M., Cousins, J., & Canessa, S. (2019). High-intensity assignments for the 22 February 2011 Mw 6.2 Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquake: A contribution toward understanding the severe damage caused by this event. Seismological Research Letters, 90(4), 1468-1482. doi: 10.1785/0220180385

Kowal, A., Stirling, M., Gorman, A., & Wotherspoon, L. (2019). Strong ground motions simulations for Dunedin: Recent progress. Proceedings of the 4th Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE Annual Meeting. (pp. 23). Retrieved from http://www.quakecore.nz

Stirling, M., & Gerstenberger, M. (2018). Applicability of the Gutenberg-Richter relation for major active faults in New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108(2), 718-728. doi: 10.1785/0120160257

Chapter in Book - Research

Stirling, M., Berryman, K., Wallace, L. M., Litchfield, N. J., Beavan, J., & Smith, W. D. (2009). Multi-disciplinary probabilistic tectonic hazard analysis. In C. B. Connor, N. A. Chapman & J. Connor (Eds.), Volcanic and tectonic hazard assessment for nuclear facilities. (pp. 257-275). UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511635380.011

Eberhart-Phillips, D., Sutherland, R., Eberhart-Phillips, D., Harris, R. A., Stern, T., Beavan, J., … Cox, S., Norris, R. J., … Cooper, A. F., … Stirling, M. (2007). Do great earthquakes occur on the Alpine fault in central South Island, New Zealand. In D. Okaya, T. Stern & F. Davey (Eds.), A continental plate boundary: Tectonics at South Island, New Zealand. (pp. 235-251). Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union. doi: 10.1029/175GM12

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Journal - Research Article

Todd, E. K., Stirling, M. W., Fry, B., Salichon, J., & Villamor, P. (2020). Characterising microseismicity in a low seismicity region: Applications of short-term broadband seismic arrays in Dunedin, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1707238

Taylor-Silva, B. I., Stirling, M. W., Litchfield, N. J., Griffin, J. D., van den Berg, E. J., & Wang, N. (2020). Paleoseismology of the Akatore Fault, Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 63(2), 151-167. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1645706

Goded, T., Gerstenberger, M., Stirling, M., Cousins, J., & Canessa, S. (2019). High-intensity assignments for the 22 February 2011 Mw 6.2 Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquake: A contribution toward understanding the severe damage caused by this event. Seismological Research Letters, 90(4), 1468-1482. doi: 10.1785/0220180385

Stirling, M., & Gerstenberger, M. (2018). Applicability of the Gutenberg-Richter relation for major active faults in New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108(2), 718-728. doi: 10.1785/0120160257

Williams, J., Barrell, D. J. A., Stirling, M. W., Sauer, K. M., Duke, G. C., & Hao, K. X. (2018). Surface rupture of the Hundalee Fault during the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108(3B), 1540-1555. doi: 10.1785/0120170291

Bebbington, M. S., Stirling, M. W., Cronin, S., Wang, T., & Jolly, G. (2018). National-level long-term eruption forecasts by expert elicitation. Bulletin of Volcanology, 80, 56. doi: 10.1007/s00445-018-1230-4

Stirling, M. W., & Anderson, J. G. (2018). Magnitude as a function of rupture length and slip rate for recent large New Zealand earthquakes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108(3B), 1623-1629. doi: 10.1785/0120170284

Litchfield, N. J., Villamor, P., Van Dissen, R. J., Nicol, A., Barnes, P. M., Barrell, D. J. A., … Stirling, M. W., … Sauer, K., … Toy, V., Williams, J., … Zinke, R. (2018). Surface rupture of multiple crustal faults in the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikōura, New Zealand, earthquake. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 108(3B), 1496-1520. doi: 10.1785/0120170300

Goded, T., Lewis, A., & Stirling, M. (2018). Seismic vulnerability scenarios of unreinforced masonry churches in New Zealand. Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, 16(9), 3957-3999. doi: 10.1007/s10518-018-0351-7

Hamling, I. J., Hreinsdóttir, S., Clark, K., Elliott, J., Liang, C., Fielding, E., … Denys, P., … Pearson, C., … Stirling, M. (2017). Complex multifault rupture during the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake, New Zealand. Science, 356(6334), eaam7194. doi: 10.1126/science.aam7194

Stirling, M. W., Litchfield, N. J., Villamor, P., Van Dissen, R. J., Nicol, A., Pettinga, J., … Duke, G., … Sauer, K., … Toy, V., … Williams, J., … Zinke, R. (2017). The MW7.8 2016 Kaikōura earthquake: Surface fault rupture and seismic hazard context. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50(2), 73-84.

Stirling, M., Bebbington, M., Brenna, M., Cronin, S., Christophersen, A., Deligne, N., … Wang, T., White, J. D. L., … Wilson, T. (2017). Conceptual development of a National Volcanic Hazard Model for New Zealand. Frontiers in Earth Science, 5, 51. doi: 10.3389/feart.2017.00051

Christopherson, A., Litchfield, N., Berryman, K., Thomas, R., Basili, R., Wallace, L., … Stirling, M. W., … Yeats, R. (2015). Development of the Global Earthquake Model’s neotectonic fault database. Natural Hazards, 79(1), 111-135. doi: 10.1007/s11069-015-1831-6

Stirling, M., & Della Pasqua, F. (2015). Erosion rates for pinnacles formed in soft sediments and implications for constraining seismic-hazard models. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 105(2A), 590-598. doi: 10.1785/0120140231

Mountjoy, J. J., Micallef, A., Stevens, C. L., & Stirling, M. W. (2014). Holocene sedimentary activity in a non-terrestrially coupled submarine canyon: Cook Strait Canyon system, New Zealand. Deep Sea Research Part II, 104, 120-133. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.09.001

Gerstenberger, M., McVerry, G., Rhoades, D., & Stirling, M. (2014). Seismic hazard modeling for the recovery of Christchurch. Earthquake Spectra, 30(1), 17-29. doi: 10.1193/021913EQS037M

Stirling, M., Goded, T., Berryman, K., & Litchfield, N. (2013). Selection of earthquake scaling relationships for seismic-hazard analysis. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 103(6), 2993-3011. doi: 10.1785/0120130052

Stirling, M., McVerry, G., Gerstenberger, M., Litchfield, N., Van Dissen, R., Berryman, K., … Jacobs, K. (2012). National seismic hazard model for New Zealand: 2010 update. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 102(4), 1514-1542. doi: 10.1785/0120110170

Bradley, B. A., Stirling, M. W., McVerry, G. H., & Gerstenberger, M. (2012). Consideration and propagation of epistemic uncertainties in New Zealand probabilistic seismic-hazard analysis. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 102(4), 1554-1568. doi: 10.1785/0120110257

Cox, S. C., Stirling, M. W., Herman, F., Gerstenberger, M., & Ristau, J. (2012). Potentially active faults in the rapidly eroding landscape adjacent to the Alpine Fault, central Southern Alps, New Zealand. Tectonics, 31(2), TC2011. doi: 10.1029/2011TC003038

Villamor, P., Capote, R., Stirling, M. W., Tsige, M., Berryman, K. R., Martinez-Díaz, J. J., & Martin-González, F. (2012). Contribution of active faults in the intraplate area of Iberia to seismic hazard: The Alentejo-Plasencia Fault. Journal of Iberian Geology, 38(1), 85-111. doi: 10.5209/rev_JIGE.2012.v38.n1.39207

Rhoades, D., & Stirling, M. W. (2012). An earthquake likelihood model based on proximity to mapped faults and cataloged earthquakes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 102(4), 1593-1599. doi: 10.1785/0120110326

Stirling, M., Litchfield, N., Gerstenberger, M., Clark, D., Bradley, B., Beavan, J., … Buxton, R. (2011). Preliminary probabilistic seismic hazard analysis of the CO2CRC Otway project site, Victoria, Australia. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 101(6), 2726-2736. doi: 10.1785/0120110049

Stirling, M. W., Ledgerwood, J., Liu, T., & Apted, M. (2010). Age of unstable bedrock landforms southwest of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and implications for past ground motions. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 100(1), 74-86. doi: 10.1785/0120080359

Stirling, M., & Gerstenberger, M. (2010). Ground motion-based testing of seismic hazard models in New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 100(4), 1407-1414. doi: 10.1785/0120090336

Slejko, D., Caporali, A., Stirling, M., & Barba, S. (2010). Occurrence probability of moderate to large earthquakes in Italy based on new geophysical methods. Journal of Seismology, 14(1), 27-51. doi: 10.1007/s10950-009-9175-x

Gerstenberger, M., Nicol, A., Stenhouse, M., Berryman, K., Stirling, M., Webb, T., & Smith, W. (2009). Modularised logic tree risk assessment method for carbon capture and storage projects. Energy Procedia, 1, 2495-2502. doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2009.02.012

Tormann, T., Savage, M. K., Smith, E. G. C., Stirling, M. W., & Wiemer, S. (2008). Time-, distance-, and magnitude-dependent foreshock probability model for New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 98(5), 2149-2160. doi: 10.1785/0120060217

Stirling, M., Gerstenberger, M., Litchfield, N., McVerry, G., Smith, W., Pettinga, J., & Barnes, P. (2008). Seismic hazard of the Canterbury Region, New Zealand: New earthquake source model and methodology. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 41(2), 51-67.

Power, W., Downes, G., & Stirling, M. (2007). Estimation of tsunami hazard in New Zealand due to South American earthquakes. Pure & Applied Geophysics, 164(2), 547-564. doi: 10.1007/s00024-006-0166-3

Nodder, S. D., Lamarche, G., Proust, J.-N., & Stirling, M. (2007). Characterizing earthquake recurrence parameters for offshore faults in the low-strain, compressional Kapiti-Manawatu Fault System, New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 112, B12102. doi: 10.1029/2007JB005019

Stirling, M. W., & Anooshehpoor, R. (2006). Constraints on probabilistic seismic-hazard models from unstable landform features in New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 96(2), 404-414. doi: 10.1785/0120050034

Stirling, M., & Petersen, M. (2006). Comparison of the historical record of earthquake hazard with seismic-hazard models for New Zealand and the continental United States. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 96(6), 1978-1994. doi: 10.1785/0120050176

Zachariasen, J., Berryman, K., Langridge, R., Prentice, C., Rymer, M., Stirling, M., & Villamor, P. (2006). Timing of late Holocene surface rupture of the Wairau Fault, Marlborough, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 49(1), 159-174. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2006.9515156

Pace, B., Stirling, M. W., Litchfield, N. J., & Rieser, U. (2005). New active fault data and seismic hazard estimates for west Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 48(1), 75-83. doi: 10.1080/00288306.2005.9515099

Alloway, B., McComb, P., Neall, V., Vucetich, C., Gibb, J., Sherburn, S., & Stirling, M. (2005). Stratigraphy, age, and correlation of voluminous debris-avalanche events from an ancestral Egmont Volcano: Implications for coastal plain construction and regional hazard assessment. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 35, 229-267. doi: 10.1080/03014223.2005.9517782

Stirling, M., Rhoades, D., & Berryman, K. (2002). Comparison of earthquake scaling relations derived from data of the instrumental and preinstrumental era. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92(2), 812-830. doi: 10.1785/0120000221

Stirling, M. W., McVerry, G. H., & Berryman, K. R. (2002). A new seismic hazard model for New Zealand. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92(5), 1878-1903. doi: 10.1785/0120010156

Stirling, M., Anoshehpoor, A., Brune, J. N., Biasi, G. P., & Wesnousky, S. G. (2002). Assessment of the site conditions of precariously balanced rocks in the Mojave Desert, southern California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92(6), 2139-2144. doi: 10.1785/0120010221

Stirling, M. W., & Wesnousky, S. G. (1998). Comparison of recent probabilistic seismic hazard maps for southern California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 88(3), 855-861.

Stirling, M. W., Wesnousky, S. G., & Berryman, K. R. (1998). Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 41(4), 355-375. doi: 10.1080/00288306.1998.9514816

Stirling, M. W., Wesnousky, S. G., & Shimazaki, K. (1996). Fault trace complexity, cumulative slip, and the shape of the magnitude-frequency distribution for strike-slip faults: A global survey. Geophysical Journal International, 124(3), 833-868. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.1996.tb05641.x

Hirabayashi, C. K., Rockwell, T. K., Wesnousky, S. G., Stirling, M. W., & Suarez-Vidal, F. (1996). A neotectonic study of the San Miguel-Vallecitos fault, Baja California, Mexico. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 86(6), 1770-1783.

Anderson, J. G., Wesnousky, S. G., & Stirling, M. W. (1996). Earthquake size as a function of fault slip rate. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 86(3), 683-690.

Stirling, M. W. (1992). Late Holocene beach ridges displaced by the Wellington Fault in the Lower Hutt area, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 35, 447-453. doi: 10.1080/00288306.1992.9514539

Stirling, M. W. (1991). Peneplain modification in an alpine environment of central Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 34(2), 195-201. doi: 10.1080/00288306.1991.9514457

Stirling, M. W. (1990). The Old Man Range and Garvie Mountains: Tectonic geomorphology of the Central Otago peneplain, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 33, 233-243. doi: 10.1080/00288306.1990.10425681

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Journal - Research Other

Stirling, M. W., & Zuniga, F. R. (2017). Shape of the magnitude–frequency distribution for the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence from integration of seismological and geological data [Short note]. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107(1), 495-500. doi: 10.1785/0120160246

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