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NZ Geologist To Join Pakistan Quake Team

11 November 2005

NZ Geologist To Join Pakistan Quake Team

A New Zealand geologist will join a team of international scientists next week to study the engineering effects of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that occurred in Pakistan in early October.

Engineering geologist Grant Dellow, from GNS Science*, will join geotechnical engineers and risk analysts from America and Pakistan for 10 days to make observations and gather information on the impact of the earthquake on the region.

The invitation to join the reconnaissance team came through the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, which has formal links with its US counterpart organisation, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

NZSEE President Mark Stirling said the mission was relevant to New Zealand because the Pakistani earthquake occurred on a buried fault. These faults are not visible at the surface and can therefore remain unrecognised until they rupture.

There are an unknown number of these faults along New Zealand's east coast. They are capable of producing large, damaging earthquakes.

" Recent evidence suggests that these hidden faults are capable of producing stronger earthquake shaking than faults that break the surface," Dr Stirling said. " As far as seismology is concerned, the Pakistani earthquake is of major significance. It is an ideal chance to learn more about the type and extent of impacts that buried faults can cause.

" And the large number of landslides triggered by the earthquake is also relevant to New Zealand. Critical lifelines such as roads, telecommunications, electricity, and water supplies could be severely disrupted if such an event occurred here."

The October 8 earthquake is the largest in recent history in Pakistan. It affected the Kashmir regions of Pakistan and India, as well as Afghanistan. An estimated 50,000 people were killed, 74,000 injured, and more than three million left homeless.

The Earthquake Commission and the NZSEE have funded Mr Dellow's travel to and from Pakistan. On returning, he will give a series of public presentations summarising the group's observations. He will also prepare a report for EQC.

* Formerly Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd

END

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