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Visible land damage, e.g. cracking, undulation

What is visible land damage?

EQC has identified the following types of visible land damage that can be seen by looking at the land. These types of land damage are called ‘visible’ land damage.

Information about visible land damage can be found in Guide to Canterbury Land Claims - Visible Damage.

Types of visible damage on flat land

Type Description
Land cracking caused by lateral spreading Lateral spreading is the sideways movement of land, typically toward watercourses. Blocks of the earth crust move sideways over liquefied soils toward a lower area. Surface damage can include minor or major cracks in the land and tilting of ground crust blocks.
Land cracking caused by oscillation movements Cracks to land can result from both lateral spreading (see above) and oscillation (backwards and forwards ground movement during earthquake shaking).  Cracks resulting from oscillation are typically minor and isolated.
Undulating land Undulating land is caused by the uneven settlement of the ground surface as a result of the ejection of sand and silt, and, to a lesser extent, the uneven settlement of liquefied soils below ground.
Local ponding Local settlement or lowering of the land resulting in water forming ponds on the ground surface for extended periods in locations where it did not pond before the earthquake.
Local settlement causing drainage issues In some areas residential land has settled more than the adjacent land beneath which public services are located (and vice-versa). This results in drains now flowing the opposite way.
Groundwater springs New groundwater springs have emerged and are now flowing over the ground surface where this was not happening before the earthquake. The spring usually occurs at a specific location on residential land.
Inundation by ejected sand and silt Sand and silt is ejected to the ground surface from the zone below the water table through cracks in the crust. The ejected sand and silt may be deposited in isolated mounds, under houses, or over large areas.

Types of visible damage on the Port Hills

In addition to the above, EQC has identified the following types of visible land damage on the Port Hills:

Type Description
Rock fall and cliff collapse Rocks that detach and roll from a bedrock outcrop during the ground shaking that have inundated houses, land and other structures.
Cliff rock outcrops that have loosened by the ground shaking, resulting in loss of land (evacuation) at the top of the cliff face and debris inundation (burial) of land/houses/structures on the properties below.
Land damage as a result of impacts (evacuation) and impact marks (undulations) from rockfall and cliff collapse.
Large scale land movement Land cracking/ bulging near the base of the slope caused by downslope displacement/ deformation of land (evacuation) during strong earthquake shaking.
Co-seismic deformation of land resulting in land cracking and deformation of land (undulations), and may result in some down slope/lateral movement (evacuation).
Small scale land movement and retaining wall failures Evacuation of land and resulting inundation as a result of failures of unretained cut or fill slopes.
Evacuation of land and resulting inundation as a result of failures of retaining walls supporting cut or fill slopes.

Retaining walls, bridges and culverts

Under the EQC Act damage to retaining walls, bridges and culverts is also a form of land damage.  This is another type of visible land damage.

More information is available on the Retaining walls, bridges and culverts page.

How is your visible land damage claim settled?

Visible land damage claims will mainly be settled by EQC with a cash settlement to the customer or mortgagee. EQC will not in most cases be carrying out, or arranging to carry out, the land repair.

The land claim settlement payment amount is generally based on an estimate of the cost of the repair to the land. To work out the repair cost, EQC has a range of potential land repair methods for flat land and Port Hills land damage and selects the most appropriate one. 

The Guide to Settlement of Canterbury Flat Land Claims sets out repair methods for some of the most common types of visible land damage on the flat land as the direct result of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The Guide to Port Hills Land Claims sets out repair methods for some of the most common types of visible land damage in the Port Hills as the direct result of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The repair methods in these Guides are general in nature. The actual repair methods used on the insured land need to be considered on a case by case basis, appropriate for the specific site and the nature of the land damage.

These Guides should each be read together with the Guide to Canterbury Land Claims - Visible Damage.

Understanding your settlement pack

Once your claim is settled, you will receive a pack including detailed information to help you understand the nature of the damage which is covered and how the settlement amount was calculated.

Your settlement pack will vary depending on whether your land is flat land or part of the Port Hills area.

See a sample pack for a flat land visible damage settlement.

See a sample pack for Port Hills visible land damage settlement.

How to request a review

Once you have received your settlement pack, if you do not agree with the decision or have new information you believe may support your claim, you can ask EQC to reconsider.

Reconsideration may result in us upholding or overturning our original decision, or issuing a new decision for a different reason not previously considered. We ask that you please send your request with supporting information within three months of the date of your settlement letter to:

Land Challenges
PO Box 311
Wellington 6140

or alternatively you can scan and email your request to

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