Scientists hunt for clues about big Alpine Fault quake

Stuff.co.nz

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge has been studying why the Alpine Fault is so susceptible to earthquakes - it's since been discovered that it may be the world's fastest-moving known fault line.

Geologists have dug two trenches across the Alpine Fault to find out when and how big previous earthquakes have been. 

Five geologists from GNS Science spent last week in Springs Junction, near the Lewis Pass on the West Coast, to study how the Alpine Fault has ruptured in the past and what kind of earthquake might happen in the future.

They hope to find out exactly how big the last three or four earthquakes were and when they happened. 

GNS Science earthquake geologists studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.
GNS SCIENCE

GNS Science earthquake geologists studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.

However, they did not find as much organic material as hoped for radiocarbon dating.

READ MORE:
When not if: Alpine Fault could cause 8 metres of movement 
Alpine Fault not so 'well behaved'
Alpine Fault could isolate the West Coast for six week
Time to prepare for the Alpine Fault

"We did find a black beetle shell and a layer of peat that we will send off to our lab for dating.

The two trenches dug across the Alpine Fault where geologists are studying previous earthquakes.
GNS Science

The two trenches dug across the Alpine Fault where geologists are studying previous earthquakes.

"This will allow us to date when the layers were created and from there we can date the previous earthquakes. By examining the layers we can see that it is a fault and there has been active earth movement going on there," project leader Dr Rob Langridge said.

Langridge, an earthquake geologist with GNS Science, said identifying and dating the last few ruptures on the fault would proved a pointer to the size and style of earthquake that can be expected in the future. 

The Alpine Fault runs across the South Island.

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs ...
JOANNE CARROLL/FAIRFAX NZ

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction. New research has found that the fault line may be the world's fastest-moving, having shifted around 700km in 25 million years.

The team dug two 20 metre-long and 2m-deep trenches at the Marble Hill campground, next to the Maruia River, which allowed them to take photos and make detailed drawings of the layers. 

Ad Feedback

He said studies had revealed the last earthquake of the Alpine Fault happened around 1800 and caused 30cm of movement. He estimated it would have been about a 7.5 magnitude, but his studies had showed the previous earthquakes would have been even larger than that. 

A concrete wall built along the fault in 1964 has not moved at all. 

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.
Joanne Carroll

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.

"This is telling us that the fault is releasing the build up of energy in large earthquakes. I would expect that when it faults the wall will crack and move about five metres," he said. 

Previous studies found the old river terraces at Springs Junction had moved 11m horizontally and about 2m vertically as a result of three or four earthquakes in the last 1200 years.  

Langridge said aerial images obtained late last year revealed the Alpine Fault was several hundred metres away from where the fault had appeared on maps.  

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge at the wall which was built across the Alpine Fault in 1964 at Springs ...
Joanne Carroll

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge at the wall which was built across the Alpine Fault in 1964 at Springs Junction

The trenches have been filled in and the land returned to its previous state when the investigation was finished.

The project had the approval of the Department of Conservation, which owned the land, and was funded by the Natural Hazard Research Platform.

The study's findings were expected to be published in 2017.

GNS Science earthquake geologists Pilar Villamor and Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine ...
Joanne Carroll

GNS Science earthquake geologists Pilar Villamor and Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

'We're just thrilled he's here'

Alec Gannaway celebrates his birthday at Auckland City Hospital surrounded by family. From left: sister Rose, mum Joy ...

Two weeks ago, Alec Gannaway was dragged by a car and put in a coma. Today, he's 21.

Girl missing for three weeks

Tamia Apaapa was reported missing on March 27 and was last seen in school uniform.

Police concerned for safety of Tamia Apaapa, 13, who has not been seen since March 27.

Rapping about real estate video

David Dallas came home to write his latest album, Hood Country Club.

David Dallas' new album is about finance companies and real estate prices. Why?

Seven carparks worth more than $1 million

Option one was voted as the design for Birkenhead town centre's latest upgrade.

"This is just a mess," said local board member Ann Hartley

Wellington

Rare falcon shot dead

Doc is outraged after a rare falcon was killed in Nikau Valley, Paraparaumu.

DoC furious over killing of protected bird, which could lead to jail sentence or a $100k fine.

Club rugby brawl claim

A player was allegedly kicked in the head following a Stokes Valley v Johnsonville match on Saturday. (FILE)

Alleged thuggery mars J'ville v Stokes Valley match: "It was the worst s--t I've seen in my life."

'Discount' price for Shelly Bay?

An artist's impression of a joint venture development at Shelly Bay by the Port Nicholson Block Development Trust and ...

Developers claim council land at Shelly Bay could be sold for a fraction of its true value.

Youth ashamed to ask for help

Youthline chief executive Stephen Bell.

They would rather ask the internet sex and mental health questions, than fellow humans.

Canterbury

Brownlee recalibrates for role

Gerry Brownlee is our new Foreign Affairs minister.

Brownlee switches from combative to diplomatic as he prepares for new role.

Driver leapt to safety

Fire crews were stood down after the driver of a crashed digger near Little River, Canterbury, escaped unharmed (file photo).

A driver escaped unharmed after digger rolled off a rural Canterbury road.

Brickbats and bouquets for Gerry

Gerry Brownlee is signing off as rebuild minister. What does the city think?

City leaders and residents react to news Gerry Brownlee will no longer be the rebuild boss.

The most rural robber?

A brazen thief has stolen hundreds of dollars worth of home kill, dozens of cheese rolls, a Swanndri, and some gumboots ...

It's enough to make any Southerner weep into their Speight's

Waikato

Tangiwai unveiling brings relief

Tangiwai train crash disaster in 1953.

A special memorial will set the record straight about two railway workers who helped save 134 lives.

Two sides of the trench

21042017 News Photo: DOMINICO ZAPATA
News: Bulent Yaprak and Caren Yaprak (Kiwi/Turk and Kiwi wife) discuss what ANZAC ...

Want to hear the other side of the Anzac story? Ask a Turkish Kiwi.

Fraudster guilty

Matamata man Brian Duffell leaves the Hamilton District Court following an earlier appearance.

Brian Duffell owns up after fleecing investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Punk show for Anzacs

Hamilton punk band BattleCat is leading an Anzac eve gig, with all door sales going to the RSA.

Hamilton punks are banding together to raise beer money for RSA members this Anzac eve.

Taranaki

Cat caught living second life video

Simba the cat has been living a second life under the alias, Crazy Horse. His two owners Mychaela Groombridge and ...

He likes to disappear for days - but it turns out Simba's been involved with another woman.

Chong coy on future

Councillor Murray Chong has laid complaints about a fake Facebook profile set up claiming he was running for New Zealand ...

Murray Chong isn't too sure whether he's interested in standing for New Zealand First or not. 

A dangerous exercise

There have been a spate of crashes on Taranaki roads this month.

OPINION: Taranaki, I think we have a problem.

Taranaki night time delight

Tim Bond has wanted to capture the Aurora Australis for years, finally succeeding Sunday night at Dawson Falls.

A photographic dream has finally come true for Tim Bond.

Manawatu

Fighting through pain

Aimee Perrett knew something was wring when she jumped on the bike.

Aimee Perrett completed an ironman race despite the effects of a rare disease.

Grand prix to stay

Manfeild Chief executive Julie Keane says the Feilding venue is committed to growing the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Manfeild fights off two other venues to keep the New Zealand Grand Prix. 

'We slept in an Agent Orange area'

Murray Wardlaw, a veteran of the Malaysian Confrontation and the Vietnam War.

"Scared? You bet, but I was a soldier. I knew what to do, and how to do it..."

Father and son gallery

Canoe polo

It's a family affair at the Oceania canoe polo champs in Palmerston North.

Nelson

Seas the day

23042017 NEWS PHOTO VIRGINIA WOOLF/FAIRFAX NZ

Russell Blowers, left, with David Puklowski as he arrives into Nelson ...

After braving high seas and mechanical blips, Nelson's Dave Puklowski had a welcome home befitting his epic efforts to help a mate.

Deadly carelessness

Kenneth Michael Wolnak has admitted careless driving causing death and injury.

A heart surgeon has been ordered to pay $165,000 for causing the deaths of two men in a horrific Nelson crash.

'Loss of innocence'

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber said the man's offending amounted to a "gross breach of trust".

A woman who was sexually violated as a teen confronted her abuser in court.

Govt backs families' diary fight

14042017 NEWS PHOTO MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

Margaret Kearns of Stoke Nelson with a copy World War One (WW1) diary ...

Kiwi war memorabilia locked in a UK university will be pursued by the government.

Marlborough

"I must belong somewhere"

US Marines in Wellington in 1942 on a train to Paekakariki.

Her birth certificate only revealed the name of her mother, not her father.

Grape spill bill

Zeolite, a multipurpose absorbent is spread over a grape spill at a roundabout in Blenheim.

The bill for clearing the roads of spilled grapes in Marlborough's harvest has so far come in at $17,000.

Funding gets green light

With State Highway 1 closed, the alternative inland route through Lewis Pass is suffering increased wear and tear.

Marlborough's transport committee has approved a request from NZTA to give them access to $15m upgrading the alternative route.

Hobbit designer's winery concept

Jackson Estate directors Jeff Hart, left, and John Benton in front of the new winery and cellar door modelled on an ...

They call it collision architecture, an 1850s-style settler's hut wrapped into a new boutique winery.

South Canterbury

New book on war hero

Tom O'Connor has published a book on Waimate war hero Eric Batchelor.

The life of one of New Zealand's most decorated soldiers has been detailed in new book.

Acid spill investigated

Leaking acid prompted an emergency response at the Redruth Resource Recovery Centre on Monday.

Investigation launched after acid leaks from containers at Redruth landfill site.

Realities of war recalled video

World War II veteran Bill Cocks receives Anzac biscuits baked by YMCA Oscar holiday programme participant Hunter Duggan, ...

Timaru children have heard about the realities of war from South Canterbury veterans.

Extra long weekend for some

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce president John Cannell says he has heard of some employers asking their employees ...

Some employers ask staff to take Monday off making for another long weekend.

Southland

Five Eyes could be in Invercargill

Passengers disembark the United States Of America aircraft at Invercargill airport.

An unusual landing at Invercargill Airport has been said to be visitors for the Five Eyes intelligence network.

New Zealand's most rural burglary?

A brazen thief has stolen hundreds of dollars worth of home kill, dozens of cheese rolls, a Swanndri, and some gumboots ...

It's enough to make any Southerner weep into their Speight's

Te Anau wastewater saga continues

Southland Mayor Gary Tong.

Talk of an alternative site for the Te Anau wastewater scheme remains on the council's mind, after its agreed alternative fell over.

Milford Sound shift

Community Trust of Southland chief executive officer John Prendergast.

The Community Trust of Southland is investigating whether it might be able to bring Milford Sound under its wing.

Ad Feedback