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New research examines little known Hauraki seismic zone

Published: Fri 7 Apr 2017 03:08 PM
7 April 2017
New research examines little known Hauraki seismic zone
The Earthquake Commission is funding research to improve the understanding of known and potential faults in the Hauraki Rift; a geological area running through the Auckland and Waikato regions including the Hauraki Gulf, Firth of Thames and Hauraki Plains.
The University of Auckland’s Dr Jennifer Eccles is leading an international team of researchers who are focused on understanding the dynamics of this slow moving seismic structure with a $70,000 grant from EQC’s Biennial Grants Programme and a $75,000 EQC University Post-Graduate Grant Programme.
“The Hauraki Rift is not as active as areas around Canterbury and the north of the South Island that have suffered recent large earthquakes. However the Christchurch earthquakes in particular highlighted the need to research and better understand slower moving geological structures that have the potential to pose a significant natural hazard risk to high population areas and infrastructure.,” says Dr Eccles.
“This particular geological structure contains the active Kerepehi Fault that runs between Matamata and north towards Waiheke Island, and is only 30 kilometres east of Auckland and Hamilton.”
Dr Eccles says that the projects have identified a gap in New Zealand’s geological knowledge because the Hauraki Rift is not well understood and there has not been significant scientific research into this seismic area since the 1980’s.
“We will be working to better understand the geology and activity of the Kerepehi Fault. Also to identify blind faults or activity on mapped faults currently deemed inactive across the Hauraki Plains and Auckland City, and contribute to New Zealand and international earthquake research.”
The team are using regional GPS measurements to monitor how the region is stretching through time and are building a model of the ground to understand its properties and composition from using reflected seismic waves.
“These are waves of vibrational energy that travel through the Earth’s layers and interact with the subsurface. These vibrations are recorded and measured at various locations and depths to build an understanding of faults at depth including possible fault lines previously undetected.
“These projects will improve the scientific community’s knowledge of the Kerepehi Fault and the wider Hauraki Rift and what seismic movement is taking place within this area. They also contribute to building a bigger picture of seismic activity in New Zealand and helps our communities become more prepared for and resilient to a natural disaster event,” says Dr Eccles.
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