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

 
Sheep: Shearing Record Smashed In Hawke’s Bay

Three shearers gathered from around New Zealand have smashed a World record by 264 sheep despite the heat, the pumiced sheep of inland Hawke’s Bay and a year’s wool weighing an average of over 3.5kg a sheep. More>>

ALSO:

Carrie Fisher: Hollywood In-Breeding & The Velocity Of Being - Binoy Kampmark

There was always going to be a good deal of thick drama around Carrie Fisher, by her own confession, a product of Hollywood in-breeding. Her parents, Debbie Reynolds and the crooner Eddie Fisher, provided ample material for the gossip columns in a marriage breakup after Eddie sped away with Elizabeth Taylor. More>>

  • Image: Tracey Nearmy / EPA
  • Gordon Campbell: On The Best Albums Of 2016

    OK, I’m not even going to try and rationalise this surrender to a ‘best of’ listicle. Still…maybe there is an argument for making some semblance of narrative order out of a year that brought us Trump, Brexit and the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Alan Vega, who I missed just as much as the Big Three. So without further ado….oh, but first a word from the sponsor More>>

    Emojis: World’s First Māori Emoji App Launched

    It’s here - the world’s first Māori emoji app Emotiki has landed just in time for summer roadtrips and santa stockings, with 200 Māori and Kiwi cultural icons for people to share their kiwiana moments with each other and the world. More>>

    ALSO:

    Howard Davis: Album Of The Year - Van Morrison's 'Keep Me Singing'

    2016 was a grand year for Van The Man - The Belfast Cowboy turned 71, received a knighthood, and reissued an expanded set of soul-fired live recordings from 1973 ('It's Too Late to Stop Now'). In the game for 53 years now, Morrison's albums consistently open new windows into the heart and soul of one of the most enigmatic figures in modern music. More>>

    Review: The NZSO Performs Handel's Messiah

    Max Rashbrooke: Saturday night's performance took the piece back to something like the way it would have originally been performed when premiered in 1742, with an orchestra of 20-30 players and only a few more singers. More>>

    Culture: Rare Hundertwasser Conservation Posters Found After 40 Years

    When Jan and Arnold Heine put a roll of conservation posters into storage in 1974 they had no idea that 42 years later they would be collectors items. More>>

    Get More From Scoop

     
     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
    Education
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news