Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


New map reveals New Zealand’s seafloor in stunning detail

New map reveals New Zealand’s seafloor in stunning detail

NIWA’s new Undersea New Zealand map provides a unique insight into the shape of the seafloor in one of the world’s most extensive marine jurisdictions.

More than 90 per cent of New Zealand’s continental mass is underwater. We have one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones and Extended Continental Shelf in the world - more than 570 million hectares of diverse marine environment, 21 times the size of our land mass.

NIWA’s ocean geologist Dr Helen Neil says, “This latest map is an asset for all New Zealanders. It’s for the person walking down the street that is really fascinated by the environment they live in, and it will also help a range of sectors understand more about our extensive marine environment. It shows in never-before-seen detail the marine realm that surrounds us.”

“New Zealand sits across a plate boundary, resulting in a diverse seascape of ridges, volcanoes, plateaux, canyons and seamounts.

“Recent technological advances mean we can now map the seabed in detail approaching that of terrestrial (land) mapping,” says Dr Neil.

The map is an updated version of the Undersea New Zealand map published in 1997. This year’s version has been created using the latest available scientific data, and is also viewable in 3D.

The updated version shows the “texture” of the seafloor and has more than 20 times the resolution of the old map. It is generated from digital elevation models using multibeam data, combined with traditional bathymetric data that reveal many, previously hidden, features.

The new map uses some 1.5 million square kilometres of multibeam coverage, with over a third of this mapped by NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa.

There are numerous areas on this new map showing more detailed information. These include the West Coast, the Bounty Trough and the Hikurangi Channels. These were represented as simple curves on the original map, but are now mapped in detail.

“The new detail shows the abundance of sinuous canyons and channels that slice through the continental margin, allowing sediment from the land to flow into the deep ocean, both west and east of New Zealand.

“The Kermadec Trench is formed by the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Indo-Australian Plate. It runs for over a thousand kilometres and, in some places, is over 10,000 metres deep. It is the deepest area within New Zealand waters,” says Dr Neil.

The new map illustrates the structure in that area. “You can see these folded ridges of sediment, and can imagine it being scraped off as one plate goes under another,” says Dr Neil.

There is a lot more detail of seamounts in areas like the Havre Trough, Louisville Seamount Chain, Antipodes Islands and along Chatham Rise.

“While seamounts can have similar shapes, detailed mapping highlights the potentially diverse nature of the habitats on these features,” says Dr Neil.

The Undersea New Zealand map is a culmination of NIWA’s geological, oceanographic, and fisheries research, and is created from NIWA’s database of high-resolution seafloor imagery from around New Zealand. It also incorporates significant national and worldwide data sets.

Maps like these produce substantial benefit for all New Zealanders and for all users of the marine environment, revealing potential for fisheries, environmental management, conservation, hazard mitigation, and energy and mineral opportunities.

The chart will be publically available from Monday 26 November. For more information visit:

Dr Helen Neil is a keynote speaker at the Geosciences New Zealand Conference, being held in Hamilton from 26-28 November. Her talk is on Monday 26 November at 1.30pm.

Undersea New Zealand, a high resolution image of the complex and diverse marine realm around New Zealand.

Undersea New Zealand provides a unique insight into the shape of the seafloor within one of the world’s most extensive deepwater jurisdictions. New Zealand straddles an active plate margin, creating a highly complex and diverse seascape of submarine trenches, underwater volcanoes, active submarine canyons and quiescent broad plateaux.

Photo credit NIWA
Notes Copyright 2012 NIWA

Other information about this item:

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Banks: Westpac Keeps Core Government Transactions Contract

The local arm of Westpac Banking Corp has kept its contract with the New Zealand government to provide core transactions, but will have to share peripheral services with its rivals. More>>


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Scouring: Cavalier Merger Would Extract 'Monopoly Rents' - Godfrey Hirst

A merger of Cavalier Wool Holdings and New Zealand Wool Services International's two wool scouring operations would create a monopoly, says carpet maker Godfrey Hirst. The Commerce Commission on Friday released its second draft determination on the merger, maintaining its view that the public benefits would outweigh the loss of competition. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: She Means Business

As Foreman says in her conclusion, this is a business book. It opens with a brief biographical section followed by a collection of interesting tips for entrepreneurs... More>>


Hourly Wage Gap Grows: Gender Pay Gap Still Fixed At Fourteen Percent

“The totally unchanged pay gap is a slap in the face for women, families and the economy,” says Coalition spokesperson, Angela McLeod. Even worse, Māori and Pacific women face an outrageous pay gap of 28% and 33% when compared with the pay packets of Pākehā men. More>>


Housing: English On Housing Affordability And The Economy

"Long lead times in the planning process tend to drive prices higher in the upswing of the housing cycle. And those lead times increase the risk that eight years later, when additional supply arrives, the demand shock that spurred the additional supply has reversed. The resulting excess supply could produce a price crash..." More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news