South Island to get quake sensors

New earthquake sensors will be deployed across Canterbury and Marlborough during a multimillion-dollar national project.

From next year, GeoNet, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and GNS Science, will roll out a monitoring station network across the upper South Island as part of a $45 million, five-year programme.

A dense network is needed to improve public safety and understanding of earthquakes, to help pinpoint and measure tremors, and provide more details on fault ruptures.

The Hope Fault near Hanmer Springs – likely to be the source of a damaging earthquake in Christchurch – will be among those in the spotlight.

In September 1888, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake on the Hope Fault shook Christchurch for 50 seconds and brought down the Christ Church Cathedral spire.

GNS Science's GeoNet project director, Dr Ken Gledhill, said the improved South Island network would provide a better match for North Island coverage.

A Canterbury strong-motion network had been in place since 2004.

The earthquake and deformation-recording equipment would include seismographs, strong-motion recorders and GPS (global positioning system) equipment.

By 2016, 30 new seismic stations and 16 GPS sites would be sited in the Marlborough fault zone, he said.

In the next two years, 10 new instruments would be installed in Canterbury, mainly in Christchurch. Eventually, 40 instruments would be spread across the region, with 20 around the city.

The Press