Funding to investigate potential seismic sources in Auckland

06 April 2018
Dr Jennifer Eccles, School of Environment
Dr Jennifer Eccles

Dr Jennifer Eccles has been awarded a Planet Earth Fund grant of $72,900 from the Scientia Trust (managed by Perpetual Guardian) to investigate potential seismic sources in Auckland.

The Trust’s aim is to encourage the study of earthquakes, of the bulk properties, astronomical motions, and internal structure of the Earth, and of the history of those studies.

Called ‘Low hazard but High Risk: Investigating Potential Seismic Sources in Auckland’, Dr Eccles project was one of only two proposals the Trust chose to fund out of 10 applications.

She says, “It is great to get this support to help fill gaps in our knowledge of faulting in Auckland, as while it is accepted the region is tectonically quiet, the high population and concentrated infrastructure make the city vulnerable, and therefore risk is high.

“Compared to high deformation areas, the geophysical, geological and geomorphic evidence for recent deformation is scarcer, more subtle or obscured by urbanisation, volcanics or water, and is relatively poorly studied,” she explains.

“We’re planning to use the grant for four, staged, masters research projects that would maximise the utility of data collected to date for seismic hazard and develop methodologies to locate and characterise faults within the challenging Auckland environment.”

In addition to contributing to a greater understanding of Auckland’s seismic hazard, the research will also add to our knowledge of the evolving tectonics in the region.

The proposed postgraduate projects are:

  • The initial project will undertake critical assessment of existing geological/structural, geophysical, geomorphic and chronological data and development of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database of the Auckland region. 3D stress modelling will be performed to determine the slip and dilatational tendency of different structures under the current stress regime.
  • Two projects will undertake systematic geological mapping of Auckland coastal outcrops with a focus on structural geology, one on the east coast and one on the west. The focus of mapping will be for outcrop or larger scale mid-Miocene to present fault structures that exhibit offset stratigraphy. Mapping structures that cross-cut soft sediment deformation, common within the Waitemata Group will be important to isolate the more recent deformation.
  • The fourth project will perform geophysical testing and characterisation of hypothesised faults. Offshore fault imaging of the hypothesised Manukau and offshore Waikopua North Fault with coring undertaken for dating if practical. Methods for onshore ground-truthing of hypothesised faults will also be developed.

About the Scientia Trust

The Scientia Trust was established by late George Eiby.

George Eiby was a Wellingtonian of wide interests. A noted seismologist who worked for the former Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), where he became known internationally as New Zealand’s foremost authority on historical earthquakes.

He was also active in fostering the development of seismology both in New Zealand and in the wider South West Pacific region.

George was a keen and active astronomer, being one of the first in the Southern Hemisphere to employ the technique of photoelectric photometry, whilst he also served extensively on the Carter Observatory Board.