Hugh Cowan

Citation on the award of Life Member will be updated shortly


Citation on the award of NZSEE Fellow, April 2012

Dr Hugh Cowan is a member of the Society who represented EQC on the Management Committee.

Hugh studied geology, engineering geology and geophysics at Victoria and Canterbury Universities. Hugh’s MSc documented the 1888 Glenwye earthquake and shed new light on prehistoric movement of the Hope fault and its long-term rate of slip in North Canterbury, building on the reports of Alexander McKay who photographed, and published arguably the first observations of strike slip faulting in the world.

Hugh’s PhD on the neotectonics of North Canterbury provided most of the active fault mapping and seismological understanding of crustal structure in the area surrounding the Canterbury earthquake sequence.  The seismic line that he had shot between Lake Coleridge and Akaroa gives insight to the Darfield Fault Zone, all of which now underpins the research into the Canterbury earthquake sequence;

Hugh was awarded Norwegian Research Council post-doctoral fellowships from 1993-1995, and contributed to geological hazard assessment in Scandinavia, the Middle East andLatin America. He participated in the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) programme “Reduction of Natural Disasters in Central America”, before moving toPanama Cityas an independent consultant. There he contributed to international and regional development projects.

On his return to New Zealand in late 1998, Hugh managed the establishment of GeoNet and later oversaw the international reviews of GeoNet that confirmed it as an asset of global standard and importance. Hugh was appointed EQC’s Research Manager in late 2005 and has facilitated new investment and improved collaboration among New Zealand’s hazard risk research community and the diverse sectors it serves.

Hugh has led three NZSEE Learning from Earthquakes teams: a two person team that visited Colombia in 1999; the NZSEE team to Thailand after the tsunami of 2004, and then, with Peter Smith, co-led the Chile (Maule) LFE team in 2010. All have been reported in the Bulletin.

Dr Hugh Cowan is well qualified to be made a Fellow of the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering.