Earthquake: Pictures show huge walls of land rose after quake in Waiau

Waiau was only kilometres away from the original quake's epicentre.
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

Waiau was only kilometres away from the original quake's epicentre.

University of Canterbury scientists have encountered incredible new features created after the magnitude 7.8 quake this month.

Geologist Dr Kate Pedley​ took these photos of the huge land-change in Waiau, the small town closest to the quake's epicentre.

"Maybe not as flashy as the ruptures north of Kaikoura," she said. But the ruptures she photographed near Waiau were a complicated and fascinating occurrence, Pedley​ said.

Another scarp on a Waiau farm, stretching up a hill.
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

Another scarp on a Waiau farm, stretching up a hill.

Pedley​ and her colleagues had been exploring a three kilometre-wide zone, where a large number of ruptures and land changes had occurred.

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Although some parts of the area got off seemingly unscathed, Pedley said it "very quickly got messy for infrastructure to the northeast".

Land at Waiau displaced by the powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

Land at Waiau displaced by the powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

A team of geologists from the university travelled from the western end of the Amuri Range, back across the Emu Plain and continued as far as the cordons would allow them.

They got as far as Mt Lyford Village, where only military convoys were allowed to carry on further.

The research was vital for understanding the hazard posed by the recent earthquakes, geologist Clark Fenton said.

A dam caused by a landslide on the Leader River.
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

A dam caused by a landslide on the Leader River.

Their findings would go towards how buildings and infrastructure were designed in the area, he said.

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The team of scientists would continue to explore the countryside and towns closest to the epicentre and affected faults for a number of weeks, a University of Canterbury spokeswoman said.

'DRAMATIC' IMPACTS

Researcher Duncan Noble stands next to a "very large left lateral fault scarp (steep slope caused by an earthquake) on ...
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

Researcher Duncan Noble stands next to a "very large left lateral fault scarp (steep slope caused by an earthquake) on the river terrace".

Fault ruptures and traces have been located across the Emu Plain. These discoveries highlighted the complexity in the Kekerengu fault structure, Fenton said.

Geologists from the Universities of Otago, Canterbury, Victoria and Auckland were mapping the ruptures and faults near Waiau, alongside scientist from GNS and Niwa.

"When the Kekerengu Fault moved as part of the M7.8 Kaikoura earthquake the impacts on the landscape were dramatic," GNS scientist Ursula Cochran said.

Scientists from around the world are researching how the earthquake impacted the land.
KATE PEDLEY/UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY

Scientists from around the world are researching how the earthquake impacted the land.

"One side of the fault has moved as much as 11 metres with respect to the other side," she said in a post on the Geonet​ website.

She said the Kekerengu fault had, for a long time, been rather unnoticeable and lifeless, but not anymore. The huge land changes triggered by the quake had made the fault line "impossible not to notice", she said.

Researchers from around the world had also landed to explore the fault for themselves and were watching on from overseas, a GNS statement said.

 - Stuff

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