Earthquakes

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Areas of Kaikōura’s seabed show promising signs of recovery just four years after the 2016 earthquake, says NIWA.
New findings from the record-breaking Tongan volcanic eruption are “surprising and unexpected”, say scientists from New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
New Zealanders and Pacific Island communities are on their way to having the most advanced tsunami monitoring system in the world.
A six-metre long orange underwater robot is flying through the Kaikōura Canyon for the next month collecting information on how the canyon has changed since the 2016 earthquake.

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Kaikōura Canyon's muddy secrets

Our team of researchers have recently returned from a voyage onboard RV Tangaroa to retrieve moorings deployed to collect sediment samples from the Kaikōura Canyon.

Submarine canyons are incredibly dynamic environments deep in the ocean that transport a lot of sediment and organic carbon. It’s been five years since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake triggered widespread underwater landslides in the Kaikōura Canyon, causing a powerful ‘canyon-flushing’. Canyon flushing describes the movement of material from the canyon into the deeper ocean, causing the shape of the canyon to change. Studying the sediment samples will reveal important information about how the canyon changes the flow of sediment in the deep ocean after big events, such as the Kaikōura earthquake.

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle helps scientists collect data

A state-of-the-art underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) called ROPOS is helping a team of New Zealand and US scientists study the Hikurangi subduction zone, where the Pacific Plate subducts beneath the east coast of the North Island.

Scientists from GNS Science, NIWA and University of Washington are currently onboard NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa on a five-day voyage to the Hikurangi subduction zone.

During the voyage, ROPOS will download the latest data from the two observatories monitoring earthquakes and slow slip earthquakes and retrieve seafloor instruments installed along the Hikurangi subduction zone. Voyage leader Dr. Laura Wallace of GNS Science says scientists cannot wait to see what the data can tell them about the slow slip earthquakes that have occurred over the last few years. “We’re also keen to learn more about last week’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake near East Cape, which was only about 100 km away from the offshore observatories. “We hope this data will help us figure out why these slow slip earthquakes are occurring on the Hikurangi subduction zone and to better understand the processes that occurred in the East Cape earthquake.”The two earthquake observatories were installed beneath the seafloor by the research vessel JOIDES Resolution more than three years ago and have been actively recording changes in the Earth’s crust due to earthquakes and slow slip earthquakes off the coast of Gisborne since then.

This is the first time the Canada-based ROPOS will be operating in New Zealand waters, to download the information from the Hikurangi subduction zone observatories. ROPOS is operated on Tangaroa by a team of eight engineers from the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility. It will take about one to two hours to download the three years’ worth of data from the observatories once the robot plugs itself into the observatory. Scientists are interested in understanding the relationship between earthquakes and slow slip earthquakes. Slow slip earthquakes appear to occur every one to two years off New Zealand’s east coast. Unlike a normal earthquake, which releases built-up stress suddenly, a slow slip event happens over a longer period – anything from days to weeks to months.

ROPOS will also be used to retrieve 16 seafloor instruments, which have been measuring the rate of water flowing out of the seafloor and collecting water for chemical analyses. University of Washington Associate Professor Evan Solomon says the information and samples being collected will help improve understanding of the role that water, deep beneath the seafloor plays, in the timing and occurrence of slow earthquakes along the Hikurangi subduction zone. “Working with international science partners is vital to the success of large science projects like this, as they bring technologies not currently available in New Zealand,” says Dr Wallace.

The voyages are supported by funding from the New Zealand Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment, and by the United States National Science Foundation.

Kaikōura Canyon

Our team of researchers have recently returned from a voyage onboard RV Tangaroa to retrieve moorings deployed to collect sediment samples from the Kaikōura Canyon.

Submarine canyons are incredibly dynamic environments deep in the ocean that transport a lot of sediment and organic carbon. It’s been five years since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake triggered widespread underwater landslides in the Kaikōura Canyon, causing a powerful ‘canyon-flushing’. Canyon flushing describes the movement of material from the canyon into the deeper ocean, causing the shape of the canyon to change. Studying the sediment samples will reveal important information about how the canyon changes the flow of sediment in the deep ocean after big events, such as the Kaikōura earthquake.

Drone survey of Kaikoura uplifted rockpools

Drones have been used at Kaikoura to survey intertidal reef areas, many of which were uplifted by as much as half a metre in the 2016 earthquake.

Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning great wave in harbour

Targeted geological sampling and imaging by NIWA scientists next week will help understand active seabed processes in one of New Zealand's largest seafloor features.

Coming from the Japanese word 'harbour wave', tsunami are a series of waves – with wave lengths up to hundreds of kilometres between crests - caused by undersea seismic disturbances.
Risks from natural hazards are part of every day life for New Zealanders, whether it is from floods, storms, tsunami, landslides, severe weather or earthquakes.

Earthquakes, floods, landslides, and low rainfall, were some of our major hazard events in 2009. For the insurance industry, it was one of the least costly years for natural disasters with claims only totalling $6.75 million, compared with $86.27 million the year before.

The sounds of whales and dolphins rarely seen in New Zealand waters have been recorded by a NIWA scientist in a pioneering underwater sound project.

Recording underwater biodiversity after earthquakes

NIWA’s marine ecologist Dr Dave Bowden talks about the catastrophic changes to the seafloor in the Kaikoura Canyon following the November 2016 earthquake.

Earthquake's unseen impact

NIWA scientists on board RV Ikatere have been surveying the coastal area around Kaikoura for the first time since November's magnitude 7.8 earthquake in 2016. Their work has revealed significant changes to the sea floor...

Huge mudslides from November’s earthquakes have wiped out all organisms living in the seabed of the Kaikōura Canyon.

Earthquake's Unseen Impact

NIWA scientists on board RV Ikatere have been surveying the coastal area around Kaikoura for the first time since November's magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Their work has revealed significant changes to the sea floor...

NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa has been diverted to survey the seabed in areas affected by Monday’s earthquake.

Seismic research by NIWA scientists off the West Coast of the South Island has identified faults capable of causing earthquakes with magnitudes of up to 7.8.

Scientists have been working on ways to find out about earthquakes that occurred before oral and written records
began in New Zealand.

In September 2010 and February 2011, two devastating earthquakes (M7.1 and M6.3 respectively) hit the Canterbury region

NIWA scientists are working at the cutting edge of earthquake research, developing new ways to interpret the history of undersea earthquakes occurring on major faultlines around New Zealand. This work will help scientists determine the likelihood of damaging earthquakes from underwater faults close to the coast.

Three new posters of the Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour seabed reveal for the first time a treasure trove of detailed information for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

14 September 2009 - Port of New Orleans CEO, Gary La Grange, is in Wellington to talk about the lessons New Orleans learnt from its recovery from Hurricane Katrina and how these experiences can help protect coastal and port areas worldwide. Mr La Grange is one of the keynote speakers at the Australasian Coasts and Ports Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa, from 16-18 September 2009.

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Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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Hazard and Risk Analyst
Strategy Manager - Oceans
Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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