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

Can micronutrients help with anxiety?

Julia Rucklidge's team is currently conducting a trial to see if micronutrients can improve depression and anxiety ...

One in 10 adults in the developed world now takes an antidepressant.

Us Two: The Mad Butcher and Don Graham

Sir Peter Leitch, left, and Don Graham.

'You know the saying, "He'd give you the shirt off his back?" I've actually seen him do that.'

Lucy Hone: Stress for success

Having a Personal Stress Plan may just be the difference between life and death, writes Dr Lucy Hone.

Not all stress is bad - if you can learn how to handle it.

'Kiwi culture' turns deadly video

Making a summer splash at locations such as the Raglan footbridge is seen as a Kiwi tradition but the consequences can ...

Four have suffered the same life-changing injury diving off a wharf; another was killed jumping from a bridge. Now, councils are taking action.

Wellington

Wellington loses Si and Gary show

Wellingtonians won't hear Si & Gary on their breakfast show anymore.

But they'll get something more local in return - Polly and Grant.

Man caught with gun

A man was arrested after police found a loaded shotgun in a car. (FILE PHOTO)

Gang tension is believed to be be behind the arrest of a man carrying a loaded shotgun in Masterton.

How to stop begging? video

Marcus Pohio is homeless and regularly begs on Courtenay Place, in Wellington.

The only thing that will get Marcus Pohio off the street is death. But is public generosity speeding that up?

Ex-British Cars House for sale

The building features a tiled lobby and a vintage cage lift.

1920s character building with penthouse apartment and rooftop on the market.

Canterbury

Photos: Christchurch floods

Heathcote River flooding near Sloane Terrace.

The Heathcote River has burst its banks and flooded southern parts of the city.

Live: Southern deluge 

The rain may have eased but parts of Canterbury and Otago are still underwater.

State of emergencies declared in several areas as flood waters force scores of evacuations.

State of emergency in Chch

Christchurch's Heathcote River was in flood on Saturday morning.

Residents evacuated in boats as persistent rain floods the Heathcote River, closing roads and inundating properties.

Heathcote residents trapped

Waimea Terrace resident Tarapreet Singh, 25.

The kitchen sink is brimming with water and the nearly overflowing toilet is unflushable.

Waikato

Historic cottage illegally destroyed

This Huntly coal-mining cottage in Tregoweth Street was torn down illegally by its owner, Kevin David Lynch, in January 2016.

The owner was fined $10,000 after he bulldozed the late Victorian coal miner's cottage.

Body in bale ruling

The body was found at OJI Fibre Solutions and FullCircle Recycling on June 28 in Frankton's Pukeko Street.

If it hadn't been raining, Daniel Bindner might not have crawled into a cardboard recycling cage.

Crash closes SH1

Police are at the scene of a crash on SH1 north of Turangi which has blocked the road.

Contractors working to clear State Highway 1 north of Turangi after a truck rolls.

Quad bike safety an attitude thing

Trauma data reveals a huge peak in quad bike injuries among the 55-to-65 age group.

Wintec students look to solve the problem of quad bike accidents.

Taranaki

Terrier looking for a friend

210717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Katie Tahere's dog Mocha is looking for a walking buddy after her dog Coco ...

Mocha is looking for a new walking companion after losing her best friend.

Farewells not the focus

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says the team aren't focusing on rallying together to try and send the departees out on a high.

Any game now could be the last for several stalwarts, but the Chiefs aren't using departures as motivation.

Building gets new roof

The New Plymouth District Council decided in January to use shingles instead of corrugated iron on the Gables under ...

The Gables Gallery's shiny new roof looks the part, thanks to 20,000 new shingles

From reporter to magical nanny

Not quite as graceful as Mary Poppins, but reporter Tara Shaskey gets a first-hand lesson on the production's flying stunts.

Mary Poppins is just a little bit magical. And that doesn't come easy or cheap.

Manawatu

Fetch not always a fun game

Chasing sticks can be a dangerous game, write vet Malcolm Anderson.

OPINION: Vet Malcolm Anderson offers some words of advice about the dangers of playing fetch.

No random drug tests 

Only following a police shooting do officers undergo drug and alcohol testing. (File photo).

Police are only given drug and alcohol testing if they fire a gun during an incident.

Millions spent fixing police cars

A police car comes to a final halt after crashing through a Hamilton property in June.

More than $8 million has been spent fixing damaged police cars in the past three years, with costs peaking in 2016.

Moon landing celebrated 

Buzz Aldrin stands on the Moon.

MEMORY LANE: Do you remember the first Moon landing?

Nelson

Nelson too good for Wanderers

22072017 NEWS PHOTO MARTIN DE RUYTER/ STUFF

Nelson players and support staff after winning the  Nelson Bays Division 1 ...

Nelson turn it on to hammer Wanderers in Nelson Bays club rugby final. 

Buzz about beekeeping

05062015 News Photo: Marion van Dijk / Fairfax NZ.

Urban beekeeper Nigel Costley with one of his beehives in the ...

Nelsonians keen to learn more about keeping bees can do so in a short course through the Nelson Environment Centre.

Trespass case win

Lawyer John Fitchett has won a trespass case against Nelson College.

Lawyer wins case against Nelson College board meetings, but judge unimpressed.

Dancers put their best foot forward

Lillian Southward performs in the Jazz Solo section at the Nelson Performing Arts Competitions 83rd Annual Festival at ...

 Toes were on point at the performing arts competition held over the weekend.

Marlborough

All hands on deck

John's Kitchen supervisor Richard McDonald likes the idea that food can be an expression of care.

Blenheim charity kitchen takes on new staff to cope with high workload.

Team turned around

The MBC Falcons rugby team had a frustrating day on Friday.

MBC First XV rugby team spent around 14 hours in a bus yesterday, then never even got to pull their boots on.

The next big quake

The Adelphi Hotel, in Kaikoura, was pulled down due to earthquake damage.

It's impossible to say when an earthquake is going to strike. But the predictable patterns of aftershocks can help.

Exploring Africa

The Hansby family at Victoria Falls, from left, Luke Hansby, Fleur Hansby, Nick Hansby and Sam Hansby.

When you plan your trip to Africa, the animals and environment are expected to be the main attraction.

South Canterbury

Power crews tackle cuts

A firefighter, from the Washdyke station, and a Netcon worker tackle a burning power pole on the Pleasant Point Highway ...

Pleasant Point residents urged to restrict power use as crews work to restore supply.

Ready, set...chomp video

Randy Santel tackles the Gotham burger challenge at the Central Cafe in Geraldine.

US competitive eater polishes off NZ's largest burger in under 10 mins.

Mackenzie blanketed 

Heavy snow is falling in Tekapo.

Snow is still falling in the Mackenzie after a dumping overnight.

Horses scramble to safety

A large tree swept past as the horses huddled for safety.

Horses clung together to dodge tree and debris sweeping towards them in raging flood.

Southland

Stewart Island heritage gets $1m

An artist's impression of the Rakiura Heritage Centre. The centre has received, over $1 million in Government funding to ...

The Government is to commit $1.08m to the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust.

Post-funeral brawl

Police and ambulance were alerted to the incident, but were not eventually required.

A post-funeral gathering in Bluff on Thursday night ended with blood, broken glass and a visit from the police.

Irrigation scheme 'a win-win'

Dairy Creek Ltd director Tim O'Sullivan, Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonker and Pioneer Energy project manager ...

A $10m irrigation scheme near Alexandra, Central Otago, is going to deliver water to about 1800 hectares of barren land.

Gecko stolen from visitor centre

The Marlborough green gecko that was stolen from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.

An at risk gecko has been stolen from the DoC visitor centre in Fiordland.

Ad Feedback