Research leader

Dr Matthew Mason
Dr Matthew Mason Research Leader
Dr Thomas Loridan Research Leader

Research team

Dr Paul Somerville Research Team
Dr Kevin Roche Research Team
Dr Deanne Bird
Dr Deanne Bird Research Team
Prof John McAneney Research Team
Dr Katharine Haynes Research Team
Andrew Gissing Research Team
Valentina Koschatzky Research Team
Richard Krupar III Research Team
Thomas Mortlock Research Team

End User representatives

Allen Gale
Allen Gale End-User
Ed Pikusa End-User
Steve Grant
Steve Grant End-User
Belinda Davies End-User

Student researchers

Emma Singh
Emma Singh Student Reseachers

Realistic disaster scenarios help emergency managers better understand disasters. They allow for visualisation of potential impacts before disasters happen, and enable proactive planning for these events. This project, now in its utilisation phase, developed realistic disaster scenarios using catastrophic loss models so that vulnerable areas, utilities and assets within our major cities can be identified.

The scenarios explored were a 6.0 magnitude earthquake under the Adelaide CBD, a number of different earthquakes under the Melbourne CBD and a category 4 cyclone in south east Queensland. While an earthquake of 6.0 magnitude may be considered unlikely by many, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred in Adelaide in 1954. Fortunately, its epicentre was far from populated areas, however today this area is densely populated. The scenario modelling considered the impacts if the earthquake occurred at 2am and 2pm, as these times were expected to result in the highest casualties. It is predicted that an earthquake like this would result in a large number of homes being destroyed or unsuitable for occupation. For both time periods, casualties could be more than 300, with over 100 life-threatening injuries expected. Basic medical aid that could not be self-treated is estimated to be required for approximately 5,000 people.

For the Melbourne earthquake scenario, three different magnitudes were examined (5.5, 6.0 and 7.0). These are all considerably larger than earthquakes that have occurred in Melbourne, and do not lie on any known faults that are considered active. As with the Adelaide scenario, impacts were modelled based on a 2am and 2pm occurrence. Under all scenarios examined, damaged caused by shaking and liquefaction would render parts of Melbourne inaccessible for large extents of time and cause long term infrastructure damage. Immediate casualties would range from under 200 for a 5.5 magnitude occurring at 2am, to more than 8,500 for a 7.0 magnitude occurring at 2pm. Those with life threatening injuries would range from less than 100 to more than 4,500. Under the most severe scenario, basic medical aid that could not be self-treated is estimated to be required for approximately 100,000 people.

The south east Queensland cyclone scenario was modelled on the track taken by Severe Tropical Cyclone Dinah in 1967. In the modelled scenario, the cyclone remained offshore, but made its closest passage to the mainland near Harvey Bay, and then moved offshore as it moved south, but staying close to the coast until south of the New South Wales border. Approximately 50,000 buildings were simulated to experience moderate structural damage, which may lead to occupants needing to seek emergency shelter. A further 8,000 would suffer major structural damage, and in many instances will need to be completely rebuilt. Older homes would bear the brunt of this damage (70-90%) as they were constructed prior to any stringent wind resistant design requirements. As a result of the damage, 50,000 people would need alternate accommodation. The cost of the damages would run into the tens of billions of dollars.

Modelling plausible scenarios such as these quantifies the impacts on society, critical infrastructure, lifelines and buildings, along with the natural environment. This allows emergency managers to understand the implications for their agencies so they can better prepare for, or mitigate the impacts of, events that are beyond their experience.

Year Type Citation
2017 Report Krupar, III, R. & Mason, M. S. A modified Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia (2015) scenario: wind and storm tide hazards and impacts. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Koschatzky, V., O'Brien, J. & Somerville, P. Earthquake Scenario, Melbourne. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Loridan, T. & Mason, M. S. Using realistic disaster scenario analysis to understand natural hazard impacts and emergency management requirements: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Conference Paper Krupar, III, R. & Mason, M. S. Forecasting the impact of tropical cyclones using global numerical weather prediction ensemble forecasts: a Tropical Cyclone Marcia (2015) wind and rainfall case study. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Kloetzke, T., Mason, M. S. & Krupar, III, R. Evaluating topographic influences on the near-surface wind field of Tropical Cyclone Ita (2014) using WRF-ARW. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2016 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2016 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Journal Article Loridan, T., Coates, L., Argüeso, D., Perkins-Kirkpatrick, S. & McAneney, J. The Excess Heat Factor as a metric for heat-related fatalities: defining heatwave risk categories. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 31, (2016).
2016 Report Mason, M. S. A southeast Queensland tropical cyclone scenario. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Loridan, T. Using realistic disaster scenario analysis to understand natural hazard impacts and emergency management requirements: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2015 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2015 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Mason, M. S. & Parackal, K. I. Vulnerability of buildings and civil infrastructure to tropical cyclones: A preliminary review of modelling approaches and literature. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report de Oliveira, F. Dimer & Mason, M. S. Using natural disaster scenarios to better understand emergency management requirements: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2014 Journal Article Coates, L., Haynes, K., O'Brien, J., McAneney, J. & de Oliveira, F. Dimer. Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844–2010. Environmental Science and Policy 42, 33-44 (2014).
Can we better understand how scientific knowledges work in risk mitigation through scenario exercises?
25 Aug 2014
This project focuses on how a better understanding of the role of science in decision-making will help ...
Using realistic disaster scenario analysis to understand natural hazard impacts and emergency management requirements
25 Aug 2014
Realistic disaster scenarios help us better understand disasters. 
Disruption of critical infrastructure during prolonged natural disasters
25 Aug 2014
The project aims to qualify and quantify the impacts of prolonged and multi-hazard natural hazard events on...
Realistic Disaster Scenarios: Severe Tropical Cyclone SE QLD
18 Aug 2015
What if a category 4 tropical cyclone impacted south east Queensland? What would the impacts be? Could our...
A Mw 9.0 Adelaide Earthquake Scenario
18 Aug 2015
What-if a magnitude 6.0 earthquake happened near Adelaide SA? IN this project we have developed such scenario...
Richard Krupar III Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016
The study of historical occurrences of natural disasters only provides a very limited view of the full range...
Thomas Kloetzke Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016
This study utilises the advanced research version of the weather research and forecasting (WRF-ARW) model to...
Realistic disaster scenario analysis: North QLD cyclone
29 Jun 2017
A modified severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia (2015) landfall event was generated. The modified case study...