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

 
Werewolf: Katniss Joins The News Team

From the outset, the Hunger Games series has dwelt obsessively on the ways that media images infiltrate our public and personal lives... From that grim starting point, Mockingjay Part One takes the process a few stages further. There is very little of the film that does not involve the characters (a) being on screens (b) making propaganda footage to be screened and (c) reacting to what other characters have been doing on screens. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Ko Witi Te Kaituhituhi

Witi Ihimaera, the distinguished Māori author and the first Māori to publish a book of short stories and a novel, has adopted a new genre with his latest book. But despite its subtitle, this book is a great deal more than a memoir of childhood. More>>

Werewolf: Rescuing Paul Robeson

Would it be any harder these days, for the US government to destroy the career of a famous American entertainer and disappear them from history – purely because of their political beliefs? You would hope so. In 1940, Paul Robeson – a gifted black athlete, singer, film star, Shakespearean actor and orator – was one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. More>>

ALSO:

"Not A Competition... A Quest": Chapman Tripp Theatre Award Winners

Big winners on the night were Equivocation (Promising Newcomer, Best Costume, Best Director and Production of the Year), Kiss the Fish (Best Music Composition, Outstanding New NZ Play and Best Supporting Actress), and Watch (Best Set, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Performance). More>>

ALSO:

Film Awards: The Dark Horse Scores Big

An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach Genesis Potini, made all the right moves to take out top honours along with five other awards at the Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards - nicknamed The Moas. More>>

ALSO:

Theatre: Ralph McCubbin Howell Wins 2014 Bruce Mason Award

The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Ralph McCubbin Howell at the Playmarket Accolades in Wellington on 23 November 2014. More>>

ALSO:

One Good Tern: Fairy Tern Crowned NZ Seabird Of The Year

The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin. More>>

Music Awards: Lorde Reigns Supreme

Following a hugely successful year locally and internationally, Lorde has done it again taking out no less than six Tuis at the 49th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news