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Combating Earthquakes and Tsunamis

2 November 2005

Combating Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions to be Discussed in University of Auckland Public Lectures

Reducing the impact of future geological disasters such as the Boxing Day Tsunami and the earthquake in Pakistan are the topics of the annual University of Auckland Vice Chancellor's lecture series to be held throughout November.

Titled 'Movement in the Earth's crust: from earthquakes to volcanoes and tsunamis' the lectures will cover a range of issues including whether a large scale tsunami could ever occur in New Zealand and where the country's next big earthquake might be located. The four talks will be hosted by experts in their field including representatives from The University of Auckland, University of California Berkeley and the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences.

The lectures will be held at the School of Engineering, 20 Symonds St, Auckland at 7.30pm on 2, 9, 16 and 23 November. They are open to the public and free of charge.

Event organiser Associate Professor Stuart Simmons from the Faculty of Science's Department of Geology, says New Zealand's unique geological setting, sandwiched between two colliding plates makes us particularly prone to geological disasters.

"The key to reducing the impact of future geological hazards lies in understanding the causes, effects and frequency of past events. The ways in which scientists are learning about these events are literally groundbreaking.

"While being able to forecast natural disasters is still some way off, the latest scientific discoveries are pointing the way towards how we in New Zealand can better live with our geological hazards."

Lecture 1, 7.30pm, Wednesday 2 November, Engineering lecture theatre 1.401
Hosted by Dr Martin Reyners, a seismologist at the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, the lecture will focus on the earthquakes created by the tussle between Pacific and Australian plates that meet beneath the North Island. Studies of this area are providing clues to where the country's large future earthquakes might occur.

Lecture 2, 7.30pm, Wednesday 9 November, Engineering lecture theatre 1.401
Designing buildings to withstand earthquake ground movements is the topic of the address from Professor Jonathan Bray from the University of California Berkeley. He will discuss how recent earthquakes have ripped apart buildings and the steps earthquake engineers are taking to develop designs to stand up to tectonic forces.

Lecture 3, 7.30pm, Wednesday 16 November, Engineering lecture theatre 1.439
Professor Colin Wilson from the University of Auckland's Department of Geology will discuss the past, present and future of volcanoes in New Zealand. This talk uses examples to show how past eruptions can be reconstructed, the constraints that can be placed on future events and where to look to understand our volcanic heritage.

Lecture 4, 7.30pm, Wednesday 23 November, Engineering lecture theatre 1.439
The cause and impact of the disastrous 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami will be discussed by Dr Paul Kench and Dr Scott Nichol of The University of Auckland's School of Geography and Environmental Science. This lecture reviews of the cause and behaviour of the largest tsunami in history and gives a first hand account of its impact on the Maldives island archipelago. The pair also address whether it could ever happen in New Zealand.


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