Associate Professor Liam Wotherspoon

BE (Hons), PhD


Liam is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Auckland. Liam did both his BE and PhD at the University of Auckland. Prior to his appointment to the department he was a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering.

His research focuses on both structural and geotechnical aspects of earthquake engineering. Resilience of infrastructure networks (modelling of components, networks and network interdepdendences). Geotechnical site characterisation (geophysical characterisation, liquefaction). Soil-foundation-structure interaction and integrated response of structures and foundations (computational modelling and field testing/monitoring of buildings and bridges).  Foundation response (computational modelling, large scale field testing). Heavily involved in post-earthquake reconnaissance investigations during the 2010-2011 Canterbury, New Zealand earthquake sequence and following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

Research | Current

  • Infrastructure network resilience
  • Geotechnical and geophysical site characterisation
  • Performance of bridges under extreme natural hazards
  • Resilience of port infrastructure
  • Integrated structure foundation response
  • Large scale field testing

Research groups

  • QuakeCoRE
  • Resilience to Nature's Challenges National Science Challenge
  • The University of Auckland Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research (UACEER)
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Structural Engineering

Teaching | Current

  • CIVIL 221 - Geomechanics 1
  • CIVIL 720 - Earthquake Engineering
  • CIVIL 721 - Foundation Engineering
  • CIVIL 741 - Ground Improvement and Geosynthetics Engineering
  • CIVIL 742 - Bridge Engineering


2018                        New Zealand Geomechanics Society Geomechanics Award

2018                        Fellow, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering

2018                        Otto Glogau Award, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering

2018                        Student Choice Top Teacher Award

2015                        ASCE Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities Outstanding Paper Award

2015                        EQC Ivan Skinner Award

2013                        PCI Martin P. Korn Award

2012                        Geotechnical Consulting Group Fellowship

2011                        IPENZ Fulton-Downer Gold Medal – The President’s Award (co-recipient) (2011)


Areas of expertise


  • Soil-foundation-structure interaction and integrated response of structures and foundations
  • Seismic response of bridges
  • Resilience of ports
  • Geotechnical site characterisation 

Committees/Professional groups/Services


Professional affiliations

  • Management Committee - New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE)
  • Member - New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS)
  • Member - Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)
  • Member - Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Wood, C. M., Cox, B. R., Green, R. A., Wotherspoon, L. M., Bradley, B. A., & Cubrinovski, M. (2017). Vs-based evaluation of select liquefaction case histories from the 2010-2011 canterbury earthquake sequence. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 143 (9).10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001754
  • Giovinazzi, S., Austin, A., Ruiter, R., Foster, C., Nayyerloo, M., Nair, N. K., & Wotherspoon, L. (2017). Resilience and fragility of the telecommunication network to seismic events: Evidence after the Kaikoura (New Zealand) earthquake. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50 (2), 318-328.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Austin, Nirmal Nair
  • Kaiser, A., Balfour, N., Fry, B., Holden, C., Litchfield, N., Gersten-berger, M., ... Ristau, J. (2017). The 2016 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake: Preliminary seismological report. Seismological Research Letters, 88 (3), 727-739. 10.1785/0220170018
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ken Elwood
  • Davies, A. J., Sadashiva, V., Aghababaei, M., Barnhill, D., Costello, S. B., Fanslow, B., ... Mackie, J. (2017). Transport infrastructures performance and management in the South Island of New Zealand during the first 100 days following the 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikōura earthquake. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50 (2), 271-299. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mohammad Aghababaei, Seosamh Costello, Prakash Ranjitkar
  • Wotherspoon, L., Orense, R., Green, R., Bradley, B., Cox, B., & Wood, C. (2015). Assessment of liquefaction evaluation procedures and severity index frameworks at Christchurch strong motion stations. Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, 79 (Part B), 335-346. 10.1016/j.soildyn.2015.03.022
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense
  • Green, R. A., Cubrinovski, M., Cox, B., Wood, C., Wotherspoon, L., Bradley, B., & Maurer, B. (2014). Select Liquefaction Case Histories from the 2010–2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence. Earthquake Spectra, 30 (1), 131-153. 10.1193/030713EQS066M
  • Cubrinovski, M., Haskell, J., Winkley, A., Robinson, K., & Wotherspoon, L. (2014). Performance of Bridges in Liquefied Deposits during the 2010–2011 Christchurch (New Zealand) Earthquakes. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 28 (1), 24-39. 10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000402
  • Wotherspoon, L. M., Pender, M. J., & Orense, R. P. (2012). Relationship between observed liquefaction at Kaiapoi following the 2010 Darfield earthquake and former channels of the Waimakariri River. Engineering Geology, 125, 45-55. 10.1016/j.enggeo.2011.11.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Pender, Rolando Orense

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 11, Room 1105
New Zealand