Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Understanding Alpine Fault Will Help Preparation For Future

Understanding The Alpine Fault Will Help Preparation For Future Quakes, UC Researcher Says

March 15, 2013

Understanding the Alpine Fault, which forms the Australian-Pacific plate boundary on the South Island, will help lifeline and emergency management organisations be better prepared for any future large magnitude earthquakes, University of Canterbury (UC) researcher Carolyn Boulton says.

Boulton is finishing her PhD research project on the Alpine Fault which has not suffered a major earthquake since 1717 AD.

``My research focuses on the effects of earthquakes on rocks comprising the Alpine Fault, the largest onshore fault in New Zealand. Since we cannot yet put instruments inside a fault, we simulate earthquake processes in the laboratory under controlled conditions.

``Prior to my research, New Zealand did not have direct measurements of the strength of the Alpine Fault. We knew that the fault must be strong because it stores seismic energy and releases it periodically in large magnitude earthquakes.

``Through my research, we have learned that the fault gets stronger with increasing temperature and pressure with increasing depth. We have also learned that when an earthquake occurs, the Alpine Fault’s strength dramatically decreases.

``When the next Alpine Fault event occurs, experts will be inundated with scientific data about the earthquake. The more background information scientists have leading up to the next Alpine Fault earthquake, the more likely they are to make intelligent decisions about the potential impact, Boulton said.

Her research, supervised by UC geology professor Tim Davies, will not enable scientists to predict the timing of the next event. But using her results, they are more likely to understand the nature of the main-shock and aftershocks associated with the next event and the underlying mechanisms responsible for the next event.

Recreating the conditions of the earth’s crust where earthquakes begin requires specialised machines which are located in only a few well-funded laboratories worldwide. At UC, Boulton is working on an advanced high-speed ring-shear apparatus which is now generating excellent data.

In the last year Boulton has also researched at three of the leading laboratories in the world - Penn State University, Pennsylvania, USA; the United States Geological Survey, California, USA; and the Institute of Geology in Beijing, China.

``At these laboratories, I have been able to study how fault strength changes during rapid sliding in an earthquake, how fault strength changes with increasing temperature and pressure and how fault strength changes at lower temperatures and pressures when weak minerals are added to the sliding surface. Taken together, these experiments are the foundation for understanding Alpine Fault mechanics.’’

Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science) estimates that there is a 30 percent probability of the next Alpine Fault earthquake occurring in the next 50 years.

The Alpine Fault’s last major earthquake in 1717 AD had a moment magnitude between 7.9 and 8.1.


Photos: Carolyn Boulton

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Music: Lorde NZ Tour Confirmed In Four Major Cities!

In what will be her first ever New Zealand headline tour, Frontier Touring and Brent Eccles Entertainment are stoked to bring you four epic shows across the country! The all ages concerts take place late October/ early November in Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Poor Economics

A review of and excerpt from Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple’s Child Poverty in New Zealand. More>>

Head Count: Highest Population Growth Since 2003

The country’s population grew by 67,800 people, or 1.5 percent, in the year to 30 June 2014. This came from natural increase (births minus deaths) of 29,500 and net migration (arrivals minus departures) of 38,300. New Zealand's estimated resident population was 4.51 million at 30 June 2014. More>>

Fun-Enhancement: Research To Ensure Even Game For Less Skilled Players

A University of Canterbury engineering PhD student is researching sports, such as table tennis, to ensure closer games for both better and less skilled players. More>>

Werewolf: From The Lost Continent

It’s a case of better late than never for Olivier Assayas’ marvellous After May/Apres Mai, which first screened at Venice in 2012, got a theatrical release in Australia – but not here – and only now appears on DVD, after Assayas himself has moved on. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Blue Eyed & Soulful

Last year’s Muscle Shoals documentary was a reminder that on some of soul music’s most hallowed tracks, the studio band consisted of a bunch of white guys from rural Alabama... More>>

ALSO:

Final Event - Number Crunching: NZ Fifth Best Performer At Commonwealth Games

With a haul of 45 medals, New Zealand has outperformed the best predictions of the world’s number crunchers by 440% and beaten our past performance at the Commonwealth Games by 11% per cent, according to a Massey University finance lecturer. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news