Sensors in Borehole at New Zealand Seismic Fault...

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Sensors in Borehole at New Zealand Seismic Fault... Empty Sensors in Borehole at New Zealand Seismic Fault...

Post by Rockhopper on Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:57 am

Scientists are drilling a bore hole into the Alpine Fault NZ.

For the first time, researchers are preparing to drop a battery of sensors deep into a seismic fault to record the build-up and occurrence of a massive earthquake.

An international team will drill a 1.3-kilometre hole in the Alpine Fault in New Zealand, through which they will gather crucial data that could help to predict future quakes. The fault ruptures roughly every 330 years, triggering a quake of up to magnitude 8 (K. R. Berry­man et al. Science 336, 1690–1693; 2012). The most recent earthquake was in 1717, so the next one is expected any time now.

“If we go on to record the next earthquake, then our experiment will be very, very special,” says Rupert Sutherland, a tectonic geologist at New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in Lower Hutt, and one of the project’s leaders. “A complete record of events leading up to and during a large earthquake could provide a basis for earthquake forecasting in other geological faults.”

The Alpine Fault, which runs for about 600 kilometres along the west coast of South Island, marks the boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates (see ‘In the zone’). Every year, these plates slide past each other by about 2.5 centimetres, building up pressure. Geologists are confident that the fault is “ready to break in its next earthquake”, says Sutherland — with a 28% chance of a rupture in the coming 50 years. The Alpine Fault has been specifically selected for the drilling site because it is so late in this earthquake cycle.

From Here.


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