2021 - Kaikōura Canyon

Kaikōura Canyon reveals its muddy secrets

The Kaikōura Canyon reveals its muddy secrets

Vessel: RV Tangaroa

Voyage Number: TAN2112

Departure: Wellington, Monday 1 November, 2021

Return: Wellington, 7 November 2021

Destination: Kaikōura Canyon

Science Personnel: Katie Maier (NIWA voyage co-lead), Scott Nodder (NIWA voyage co-lead, sediment traps lead and chemical safety officer), Peter Gerring (NIWA operations lead), Ollie Twigge (NIWA moorings), Will Quinn (NIWA sediment traps, coring, positioning and safety officer) and Stacy Deppeler (NIWA sediment traps and coring

Kaikōura canyon’s muddy secrets

Scientific objectives

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. 

The primary objectives of the voyage included recovering three moorings in Kaikōura Canyon, originally deployed during voyage TAN2011 in October 2020. At each site, multicoring occurred after the recovery of every mooring. The three moorings were then redeployed at the same sites to continue collecting samples and data. 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.