School of Environment


Major research projects


Getting inside the earthquake machine: Fine-scale imaging of the Alpine Fault zone


Simon Guerin-Marthe
Simon Guerin-Marthe

The Alpine Fault produces large earthquakes on average every 330 years, with its last rupture in 1717 AD. Studying a major fault this late in its cycle of stress accumulation is a unique opportunity to understand the subsurface conditions ahead of an anticipated large earthquake. The Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) is an international research endeavour focusing on the structure, ambient conditions, and evolution of the central Alpine Fault via scientific drilling and multidisciplinary research. As such, the DFDP is working towards understanding how micro- and macro-scale rock properties affect large-scale rupture processes and the evolution of an earthquake cycle at upper- and mid-crustal depths. Although geophysical imaging has been successful at qualitatively mapping the Alpine Fault at large scales, we propose to fill the need to quantitatively interpret these signatures in terms of rock microstructure, geochemistry and fluid pressure-modulated processes occurring at the grain- and fracture-scale. This work will help decipher the dynamics of earthquake rupture. We have forged a multidisciplinary team to obtain quantitative insight into fault zone architecture  and to examine how processes occurring within the fault zone control Alpine Fault earthquakes, by making systematic measurements of the microstructure and geophysical rock properties with novel laboratory techniques.

Funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grant

Research Team

University of Auckland: Ludmila Adam
Senior Lecturer
Earth Science

Otago University: Virginia Toy

University of Liverpool: Daniel Faulkner

University of Victoria: John Townsend

University of Liverpool: Carolyn Boulton

Further details and enquiries

Website:

http://poro.wordpress.fos.auckland.ac.nz/

Email:

l.adam@auckland.ac.nz

Nation and Migration: Population mobilities, desires and state practices in 21st century New Zealand


Stick figures

The Nation and Migration research programme is re-examining the ways in which migration is articulated into national and transnational life in twenty-first century New Zealand through a particular focus on patterns of circular and temporary mobility. The programme includes three studies that address the changing patterns of migration into New Zealand, the trans-Tasman mobility of New Zealanders, and the role of migration in governmental imaginings and enacments of national futures. The first study examines the mobility patterns and desires of new temporary migrants in three regional employment sectors that are commonly viewed as critical to national futures: trades workers in the Canterbury rebuild; dairy workers in Waikato; and nurses in the Auckland public health system. The second project mirrors the first in exploring mobility patterns and desires of both native and naturalised trans-Tasman migrants in the urban agglomerations of Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The final project builds on these migrant understandings of nation and future to explore the govermental approach to different modes of migration in to, out of and through New Zealand focusing particularly on how migration is enlisted in visions for national future, the significance of diaspora and the political projects that seek to work on these populations.

Funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Research Team

University of Auckland: Francis Collins
Senior Lecturer
Geography

University of Auckland: Wardlow Friesen
Senior Lecturer
Geography

University of Auckland: Nick Lewis
Associate Professor
Geography

Adelaide University: Alan Gamlen

University of Waikato: Richard Bedford

Further details and enquiries

Website:

www.nationandmigration.co.nz

Twitter:

@Moving_Futures

Facebook: @nationandmigration

Email:

f.collins@auckland.ac.nz

 

Building a Better Hazard Map: Collaborative, evidence-backed, user-optimised crisis hazard map design


Examples of how to show hazard information on a map
What is the clearest way to show hazard information on maps?

Volcanologists put tremendous time and effort into researching where the dangerous impacts of a volcanic eruption are likely to hit. However, comparatively little time and effort has been put into exploring how this potentially life-saving information is displayed on a map in order to share the information with those who need it. Past eruptions across the world have highlighted that the hazard maps produced by scientists and officials can often be complex and confusing to non-specialists – which can lead to dangerous miscommunications in a crisis. The Building a Better Hazard Map research programme investigates how people read, interpret, and construct knowledge from volcanic hazard maps in order to better understand how hazard maps can be designed to communicate in a way that is clear and relevant to non-specialists. The project involves collaborative, theory-based development of hazard maps, followed by a series of eye-gaze tracking experiments and surveys which will explore how people read the maps. Results will inform the development of real crisis hazard maps and graphics by providing advice regarding how they can be designed in a way that is clear and useful to a large group of diverse people. The transdisciplinary project brings together researchers from geology, communication, cognitive psychology, and computer science, as well as stakeholders from emergency management groups and national parks.

Funded by EQC and the DEVORA Project

Research Team

University of Auckland: Mary Anne Thompson
Research Fellow
Environment

University of Auckland: Jan Lindsay
Associate Professor
Environment

University of Auckland: Christof Lutteroth
Senior Lecturer
Computer Science

University of Auckland: Paul Corballis
Associate Professor
Psychology

GNS Science: Graham Leonard

University of Edinburgh: Eliza Calder

University of Washington: Anne Bostrom

Furhter details and enquiries

Email:

m.thompson@auckland.ac.nz

 

Auckland lakes as climate dipsticks: producing unique insights into the nature and drivers of the past 117,000 years of climate change

Boat on the sea
Drilling Orakei Basin, Auckland City. Source: Paul Augustinus

The response of past terrestrial ecosystems to rapid climate change is central to the debate surrounding the consequences of future climate change in a warming world. However, although much has been learned regarding the mechanisms of abrupt climate change, it is unclear how these events are generated and transmitted. Part of the problem lies in the paucity of accurately and precisely dated high-resolution records of climate change needed to identify the degree of synchrony between these events throughout the global climate system. The episodes of rapid change over the past 117,000 years form part of the solution, although they best expressed in climate records from the polar and tropical regions. The Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes are a data sparse and poorly-understood part of the global climate system, although our Auckland volcanic lake sediments will enable us to produce a unique, continuous and high-resolution record of past climate variability spanning the period of interest. We will use a novel approach involving a range of quantitative sedimentological, geochemical and biotic estimates of past climate with the development of robust age models. The output will be an unparalleled record of the nature, timing, rate and consequences of past climate change from the Southwest Pacific.

Funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund

Research team

University of Auckland: Paul C Augustinus
Associate Professor
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Phil Shane
Associate Professor
Earth Sciences

University of Mainz, Germany: Frank Sirocko
Professor of Sedimentology

University of Texas, Austin: Tim Shanahan
Associate Professor

Victoria University of Welliington: Rewi Newnham
Professor of Quaternary Science

Further details and enquiries

Email:

p.augustinus@auckland.ac.nz

 

Rethinking the future of freshwater systems in Aotearoa New Zealand


Waipa River near Te Keeti Marae, Otorohanga
Waipa River near Te Keeti Marae, Otorohanga

River restoration is a priority for Māori and the Crown, who are negotiating new governance arrangements to improve river health and enable kaitiakitanga.  The continued exclusion of different understandings of freshwater in management approaches is blocking urgently needed progress to addressing declining river health and enable just and sustainable river futures.  This project seeks to explore how diverse knowledge systems and practices might inform effective freshwater management now and in the future.  Our overall goal is to co-produce knowledge about freshwater with Māori and other stakeholders to determine: what social expectations accompany river restoration; how these expectations shape the range of responses that are considered reasonable and just; and, how these expectations influence metrics of environmental value and success.

Funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund

Research team

University of Auckland: Karen Fisher
Senior Lecturer

University of Auckland: Meg Parsons
Lecturer Geography

Further details and enquiries

Email:

k.fisher@auckland.ac.nz

Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland: The DEVORA project


DEVORA researchers examining Motukorea Volcano in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, with Rangitoto Volcano in the background
DEVORA researchers examining Motukorea Volcano in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, with Rangitoto Volcano in the background. Rangitoto and Motukorea are just two of the 53 volcanic centres in the dormant Auckland Volcanic Field. Source: Elaine Smid

DEVORA is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary collaborative research programme aiming to improve the volcanic hazard outlook and risk assessment for Auckland, New Zealand. It was born out of a clear need to prepare the city for future volcanic events, both local and distal. The city of Auckland (pop. 1.5 M) frequently receives damaging ash fall from North Island volcanoes (e.g. Ruapehu 1996) and is built upon the dormant Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF). The programme has been active since 2008, and is co-led by Graham Leonard (GNS Science) and Jan Lindsay (University of Auckland). DEVORA’s overall goals are to increase knowledge around geological, volcanic hazard, and risk and social impact aspects of eruptions in the AVF, and to deliver this knowledge in a concrete tool for risk managers. To achieve this, they are currently aiding the expansion of a GNS/NIWA tool called Riskscape to include volcanic hazards. The tool can be used to compare and examine the impacts and economic effects of natural hazard events in New Zealand. Other desired outcomes from DEVORA revolve around educating the public about volcanic processes and translating research findings into useable formats that can be used by policy-makers to formulate risk mitigation and public communication strategies.

Logo

Funded by the Earthquake Commission, Auckland Council, The University of Auckland, and GNS Science

Research team

University of Auckland: Jan Lindsay
Associate Professor
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Shane Cronin
Professor
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Michael Rowe
Senior Lecturer
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Paul Augustinus
Associate Professor
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Jennifer Eccles
Lecturer
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Mary Ann Thompson
Research Fellow
Earth Sciences

University of Auckland: Kate Kenedi
Research Fellow
Earth Sciences

Further details and enquiries

Web:

www.devora.org.nz

Email:

admni@devora.org.nz