Newsletter Digest: Earth science, food safety and Tim Flannery to visit

A massive week for earth science

Barely a week on from last Saturday’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Canterbury, scientists have paused to outline what they have learned about the quake from examining the previously undiscovered fault and seismographic and GPS data that has been gathered in the region.

Dr Ken Gledhill, Duty Seismologist at GNS Science and the GeoNet platform and Professor Martha Savage from Victoria University held a public lecture in Wellington today which can be listened to on the SMC website.

Scientists from GNS Science and several of the countries universities mobilised this week to gather data on the quake, deploying seismometers in Canterbury to measure more accurately the size and location of aftershocks. Around 200 seismometers from Stanford University are also being deployed, in some cases in people’s houses.

Among the big questions raised by the quake, the scientists speaking in Wellington today identified the following:

  • How can we find other unknown faults in New Zealand?
  • Can earthquakes interact and have an impact on each other? If so, how?
  • What can we learn about the emotional impact of people in the wake of disasters like this? Can we better predict earthquakes?
  • What can we learn to improve building standards?

Check out the Sciblogs highlights section  in the newsletter to see the extensive analysis of the earthquake our science bloggers provided during the week.

Food safety under the spotlight

An international line-up of food safety experts will be in Auckland next week for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s conference.

Among the international speakers is Professor Gordon Robertson from the University of Queensland who will be looking at how food contact materials can leach chemicals into food and discuss recent incidents that have made headlines around the world including printing inks, recycled content, plasticisers, heavy metals and Bisphenol-A.

The SMC will be on hand at the conference recording keynote speeches and issuing updates – check out the SMC website, Sciblogs and Twitter for updates. Journalists who want to find out more can contact Gary Bowering at NZFSA.

Prof Tim Flannery coming to town

Outspoken Australian scientist and conservationist Professor Tim Flannery will be in New Zealand next week as one of the headline speakers at a conference in Wellington on soil carbon and climate change.

Among the issues that will be discussed at the conference, being held from September 15 – 16 at Te Papa in Wellington:

  • The science behind climate change and soil carbon
  • The on-farm benefits of biological farming
  • How research can support innovative farmers
  • An overview of the new biological economy and market opportunities
  • Practical tips to build soil carbon, humus and soil biology
  • Future directions for NZ agriculture and extension services
Full conference details are available here. The SMC recently held a briefing for journalists on soil carbon and featuring scientists involved in the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. You can listen to the briefing here.