Victoria scientists respond to a quake-hit New Zealand

From almost the moment the Kaikoura earthquake struck, Victoria scientists have been on hand to provide information and research support to help understand the quake and what the future impacts might be.

Scientists from Victoria’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences are helping document the rupturing, fault slip and other ground deformation that took place during the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake at two minutes past midnight on November 14, as well the distribution and properties of aftershocks that have succeeded it.

Professor Tim Little, Adrian Benson and MSc student Jesse Kearse have been assisting with the GeoNet and GNS Science earthquake response fault mapping work. Focussing on the area north of Kaikoura, and, where possible, they are documenting the magnitude of ground deformation along the trace of the rupture using Global Positioning System (GPS) surveying techniques.

Postdoctoral students Calum Chamberlain and Katrina Jacobs and Victoria graduate students Andy McNab, Konstantinos Michailos, Hubert Zal, and Dominic Evanzia have been deploying seismometers in the lower North Island and upper South Island to record aftershocks. Further deployments are planned in coming days in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and GNS Science.

Head of School Associate Professor John Townend has been contributing to the science response coordinated by GeoNet, and has been providing expert commentary in the media since the night of the earthquake. 

  • Associate Professor Townend discusses whether the moon does or doesn't play a role in earthquakes.
  • Associate Professor Townend explains the science of the aftershocks
  • Associate Professor Townend talks to Radio New Zealand about the science behind the first quake. 

Research and teaching in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences covers a wide spectrum of earth science and environment studies. One of our research strengths is in earthquake processes, natural hazards, and the impact that these events have on people.

Read more about studying earthquakes at New Zealand’s top University for research quality in the Earth Sciences discipline.