The ONGUARD seismic system has withstood the ultimate test – a very strong, extremely complex earthquake that had absolutely devastating effects.

Cue the suspenseful soundtrack… Let’s take a trip to where it happened and see how this powerful earthquake impacted the area, and learn how ONGUARD’s tanks performed.

The Greatest Test of Our Tank Protection

Welcome to the Marlborough region of New Zealand. 

Marlborough is most famous for its dry climate and Sauvignon Blanc wine, described as “the best in the world” by internationally acclaimed wine critics [1]. It is by far New Zealand’s largest wine region and accounts for 80% of the country’s production [2].

Marlborough is located in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island.

The Clients

Several Marlborough wineries had already decided to invest in cutting-edge seismic technology by mid-2016, choosing ONGUARD to protect their wine tanks.

ONGUARD deployed its energy-dissipating seismic system on over 300 tanks at those wineries, protecting around 15 million gallons of wine.

The Earthquake

The Magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura Earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island on November 14, 2016 at 12.02am local time [3], causing two minutes of violent shaking [4].

It was described as “the most complex earthquake ever studied” by the BBC [5]; ruptures occurred on multiple faults, and more than 10,000 landslides were triggered [3].

The Impact

According to [6] NZ$1.8 billion of property insurance claims were received. That’s approximately US$1.3 billion.

The Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Programme’s site described how train tracks twisted, and roads cracked open wide enough to swallow a bus. Over 100 structures and 20 tunnels were damaged, and roads and railways were clogged with over 35 million cubic feet (one million cubic meters) of rock and other fallen debris [7].

Will Lomax, ONGUARD’s President and CEO, had seen his own office destroyed by an earlier New Zealand earthquake.

The Results

300+ ONGUARD-protected tanks, holding 15 million gallons of wine, survived two minutes of violent shaking with zero damage and, crucially, not a drop of ONGUARD-protected wine was lost.

Traditionally-designed anchoring systems failed at alarming rates, spilling wine onto cellar floors. Tanks collapsed, catwalks fell down, and production was brought to an abrupt halt that lasted months. The scene was apocalyptic.

Thankfully, the event occurred during the night and nobody was injured. The story may have been different if the earthquake had struck during business hours.

Damage inflicted on wine tanks and traditional tank anchorage systems when the M7.8 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake hit Marlborough, New Zealand.


‘Tank graveyards’ became a common sight throughout Marlborough after the M7.8 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake hit.


The numerous modes of tank failure witnessed provided the perfect learning ground for earthquake engineers.


Many tanks simply collapsed.


Only good fortune – the earthquake struck in the middle of the night – prevented injuries, or worse, to people.


Once the dust had settled, the scale of the clean-up task became obvious.


Supporting stands simply folded in on themselves.


The inherent flaws with traditional tank anchors were exposed on a massive scale, even though in many cases these were well-designed and complied with the design codes.

The Validation

ONGUARD passed the test with flying colors; no ONGUARD-protected liquid storage tanks suffered any damaged whatsoever, and there was no loss of product.

ONGUARD’s seismic systems performed exactly as intended, safeguarding the future of those businesses that chose to invest.

Earthquakes are inevitable. If you’re a tank owner looking for some peace of mind, CONTACT ONGUARD TODAY

The scene at a winery with ONGUARD-protected tanks, only hours after the M7.8 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake struck. Our engineers inspected every ONGUARD-protected tank in the region and found zero damage to tanks, concrete and connected services, and no loss of product.


Despite the magnitude of the event – accelerations of up to 160% of design levels – the resilient sacrificial fuses within the Onguard anchors did their job exactly as intended.


[1] “The Globe in a Glass”. The Economist. 16 Dec 1999. Updated 16 Aug 2006.

[2] “Annual Report 2021”. New Zealand Winegrowers.

[3] “M 7.8 Kaikōura Mon, Nov 14 2016”. United States Geological Survey

[4]  “Watching the M7.8 Kaikoura quake dominos fall in real time”. GeoNet. 23 November 2016.

[5]  Amos, Jonathan. “Kaikoura: ‘Most complex quake ever studied'”. BBC. 23 March 2017

[6]  Winter, Chloe. “Insurance claims total $1.84 billion for Kaikoura earthquake”. 21 June 2017

[7] “Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Programme, New Zealand”. Aurecon.