Kaikōura earthquake, one year on – In the News

A year on from the November 14 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the upper South Island and Wellington, scientists are gathering in Marlborough to discuss what they’ve learnt from the quake.

Uplifted seabed in Kaikōura following 2016 earthquake.

Earthquake scientists have gathered in Marlborough for the eighth annual International Workshop on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics and Archeoseismology, which is being held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. It was in New Zealand this year to mark the tri-centenary of the last Alpine Fault earthquake in 1717, but included field trips and discussions about the Kaikōura earthquake.

Starting in North Canterbury, the November 14 quake travelled north more than 170 kilometres and rupturing 21 different faults.

GNS Science geodesy specialist Dr Ian Hamling was the lead author on a Science paper, published earlier this year, that identified the complexity of the earthquake rupturing multiple faults and “jumping” as much as 15km between faults. He told stuff.co.nz the number of faults “was certainly a big surprise”.

The quake was also one of the best examples int he world of a large distant earthquake triggering a slow-slip event. GNS Science geophysicist Dr Laura Wallace told stuff.co.nz that slow-slip movement detected on the shallow part of the Hikurangi subduction zone, including an area beneath the Kāpiti region which is still moving.

“There’s this whole range of things happening on our plate boundary that we never, ever knew about and it has huge implications for trying to understand how movement between the tectonic plates is accommodated.”

Dr Caroline Orchiston, from the University of Otago, is the science lead for Project AF8, which aims to prepare for an Alpine Fault rupture that could generate a magnitude 8 earthquake. She told Radio NZ, “the Kaikōura quake taught us a lot of lessons about the impact on people, on society and on infrastructure” and those lessons were being used to form a response plan to a future Alpine Fault earthquake.

“It’s really unequivocal evidence now that we know it’s going to happen again.”

Media coverage of the one-year anniversary includes:

Stuff.co.nz: November 14 earthquake a big shock with big surprises
Radio NZ: ‘The Kaikōura quake taught us a lot of lessons’
Stuff.co.nz: Earthquakes can’t be predicted, but Kaikōura helping improve forecasts
Stuff.co.nz: What we’ve learned about slow slip events since the November 14, 2016 quake
Radio NZ: What Kaikoura has taught us about earthquakes