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Department of Geology News and events

Deep Fault Drilling Project 2 News

Monday, 15 December 2014 10:06am

The Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) is an international science experiment studying the Alpine Fault in western South Island. “DFDP-2” refers to the second phase of the Deep Fault Drilling Project and to the 1.3 km-deep borehole that is intended to be drilled during this phase of the project.

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Otago researchers find new whale genus (ODT article)

Thursday, 20 November 2014 4:48pm

Painstaking detective work by University of Otago paleontologists has led to the discovery of a previously unknown genus of ancient baleen whales. Otago geology department PhD student Robert Boessenecker and his supervisor, Prof Ewan Fordyce, have named the new genus Tohoraata, a Maori word translated as ''Dawn Whale''.

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Ancient NZ ‘Dawn Whale’ identified by Otago researchers

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 11:06am

University of Otago palaeontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand’s ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of fossil baleen whales and two species within it.

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Marsden grant awarded to Daphne Lee to study ancient Kauri amber

Friday, 7 November 2014 11:51am

We have known about the abundant brownish-yellow resin/kauri gum in NZ coal deposits for well over a century. However, because it is typically opaque and full of bubbles, no-one had ever been able to see any fossils in it. Our colleague Alexander Schmidt in his amber laboratory in Goettingen developed a technique for making NZ amber translucent, and our pilot study on Miocene Central Otago amber has revealed a huge diversity of exquisite 3-dimensionally-preserved organisms.

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Marsden Fast-Start awarded to Steven Smith to study why some faults creep and others rupture producing earthquakes

Friday, 7 November 2014 9:54am

Catastrophic earthquakes occur when active faults move abruptly, but many active faults also slip or creep slowly without causing damage. Understanding why some faults creep slowly and others rupture quickly has significant implications for assessing ground-shaking potential in plate boundary regions.

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Dr Matthew Sagar awarded Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowship

Friday, 7 November 2014 10:17am

Dr Matthew Sagar has been awarded Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowship to study “Alpine Fault “Big Bend”: Evolution and earthquake hazard” at Victoria University of Wellington starting in 2015

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Funds for look into lost world (ODT Article)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014 9:35am

An $810,000 Marsden Fund grant will help University of Otago geologist Associate Prof Daphne Lee gain revolutionary new insights into a lost world of ancient insects, preserved in kauri amber.

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Royal Society honours four Otago researchers (ODT article)

Thursday, 30 October 2014 9:24am

Four University of Otago researchers, Profs Catherine Day, Ewan Fordyce, Neil McNaughton and Iain Raeburn, have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Prof Fordyce, of the geology department, was ''New Zealand's leading vertebrate palaeontologist and a world leader in research on the evolution of whales, dolphins and penguins''.

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Alpine drilling fault project moves into new phase

Monday, 20 October 2014 10:17am

The multi-national Alpine Fault drilling project has moved to a new phase with a new drilling rig positioned over the borehole to take the probe to its target depth of 1.3km

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Scientific drilling project underway on Alpine Fault

Monday, 6 October 2014 12:39pm

An international team of scientists, including Otago researchers, has started drilling a 1.3km-deep borehole into the Alpine Fault in the South Island to find out more about the nature of the fault and the earthquakes it produces.

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Geologists study cliff face for cause of second slip (ODT Article)

Saturday, 20 September 2014 11:50am

An engineering geologist was lowered down a Kakanui cliff face along Beach Rd south of Oamaru yesterday morning to inspect the site of a second slip of limestone into the sea.
Waitaki District Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen said Geosolve senior engineering geologist Mark Walrond and geologist James Griffiths examined the cliff face to check its stability following the early-September slip.

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'Unique' porpoise washes up on peninsula (ODT Article)

Friday, 19 September 2014 11:18am

A 2.15m-long male spectacled porpoise, one of the world's most rarely seen marine mammals, was found on Pipikaretu Beach by Penguin Place guide Tama Taiti on Wednesday morning.
University of Otago geologist Prof Ewan Fordyce said fewer than 10 spectacled porpoises had washed ashore on New Zealand's coast and it was the first his research team had seen.

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Answers being sought for whale strandings (NZ Herald Article)

Thursday, 18 September 2014 11:16am

The ear bones from two whales stranded in the Far North are being examined by an expert to see if seismic testing caused the marine mammal deaths.

The bones were sent to Professor Ewan Fordyce, from the geology department at Otago University, who was to examine them to see if there was any sign of seismic, sonar, or other human intervention that might have caused the deaths. Professor Fordyce said he could have answers by today.

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Predicting the next Big One (ODT Article)

Sunday, 17 August 2014 2:59pm

University of Otago geologist Dr Virginia Toy is keen to shed new light on the likely effects of a predicted huge earthquake on the Southern Alps fault system.

Dr Toy, a senior lecturer in structural geology, is one of three co-leaders in a major international scientific venture, the Deep Fault Drilling Project, at the Southern Alps.

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Giant penguin in mint condition (ODT Article)

Saturday, 9 August 2014 11:25am

An extinct giant penguin species discovered by University of Otago geologist Prof Ewan Fordyce has been emblazoned on a collectable coin recently issued by New Zealand Post.

It is believed to be the first time the research findings of an Otago University academic have been featured in this way.

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Otago scientists part of planned deep drill probing of Alpine Fault

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 11:08am

A New Zealand-led international science team that includes University of Otago geologists is planning to drill a 1.3km-deep hole into the Alpine Fault in the South Island later this year to find out more about the nature of the fault and the earthquakes it produces.

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Strange marine mammals of ancient North Pacific revealed

Thursday, 6 February 2014 9:01am

The pre-Ice Age marine mammal community of the North Pacific formed a strangely eclectic scene, research by a University of Otago Geology PhD student reveals.

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Otago researchers reveal new NZ fossil dolphin

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:01am

A newly recognised fossil dolphin from New Zealand, dubbed Papahu taitapu, is the first of its kind ever found and may be a close relation to the ancestors of modern dolphins and toothed whales, according to University of Otago researchers.