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Rapid Recovery of Topographic Data after the Mw 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake of 2016, New Zealand.

This is a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) funded project (Principle Investigator Ed Rhodes, with Rob Bryant, Sheffield) investigating the geomorphic and tectonic effects of the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake.


Duration: Ongoing


Early in the morning of 14th November 2016, a Mw 7.8 earthquake occurred in the South Island of New Zealand, the largest to strike the region in over 100 years. The epicentre was located 9 km north of Culverden, and rupture propagated northwards in a complex pattern along a series of faults (both mapped and previously unmapped), producing dramatic surface ruptures (more than ~10m of displacement), widespread landsliding between Kaikoura and Blenheim, and two fatalities.

The earthquake was remarkable for its magnitude and its complexity: it ruptured at least 12 faults with both strike-slip and thrust motion and displayed large variation in slip over short wavelengths.

But it also generated a vast amount of valuable data. This is due to the area's extensive network of monitoring instruments - such as seisomographs and GPS stations - as well as the ready availability of topographic and spatial information about the region affected by the earthquake.

The earthquake is probably the largest event of its kind to occur under such well-instrumented conditions.

The project involves the collection of high resolution topographic data using terrestrial ground-based lidar, photogrammetry from drones and helicopter, field recording of offsets, and detailed recording of striations on fault surfaces. In addition, the project team has emplaced a network of single and dual channel GNSS stations to record post-seismic deformation. The team has undertaken a series of field visits by the team and are soon to undertake further fieldwork. The project will improve the scientific community's understanding of the processes that occur during large earthquakes, of the tectonic controls over fault slip and surface rupture, and how the geomorphic record is produced and evolves after the earthquake.


Researchers from Sheffield involved in this project: Ed Rhodes, Rob Bryant.

Other project team members: John Elliott, Leeds; Barry Parsons and Dave Mackenzie, Oxford; Simon Lamb, Vitoria University, Wellington, New Zealand; Ian Hamling, GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, and Max Wilkinson of project partners GRL, Durham)