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Department of Geology News and events

New seismic source "tumper" tested at Waikouaiti Beach

Friday, 12 June 2015 11:53am

After a few initial delays, we made it out to Waikouaiti Beach to finally test our new seismic source! The new weight drop seismic source (a thumper) will be used for research on seismic hazards with focus on identifying buried faults, determining sedimentary basin and aquifer geometries and evaluating rock formations for landslide hazards.

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Secrets of ancient NZ volcanoes revealed (NZ Herald Article)

Thursday, 11 June 2015 12:31pm

The world was left captivated by an island that was rapidly and dramatically created by an underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga in March. But new research has suggested something similar - yet perhaps more remarkable - once took place right here in New Zealand. Ben Moorhouse (Otago PhD student) has revealed the bizarre history of ancient eruptions from different volcanoes over millions of years apart

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Subduction Thrust Investigation of New Zealand using Geothermics and Seismics (STINGS) Cruise

Monday, 8 June 2015 1:48pm

The objective of this science cruise is to collect heat flow and seismic reflection data offshore the eastern margin of the North Island, New Zealand to develop a better understanding of this region, known as the Hikurangi subduction zone.

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Ganges river dolphin distant cousin of ancient New Zealand one

Tuesday, 2 June 2015 12:00pm

A newly described ancient marine dolphin fossil from the Waitaki region is of the same superfamily as the endangered Ganges river dolphin, according to University of Otago research.

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Otago appoints first Professor of Earthquake Science

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 12:52pm

A leading New Zealand seismologist has been appointed as the University of Otago’s inaugural Professor of Earthquake Science.

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Otago researchers reveal the Taieri’s hybrid history

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 11:10am

New Zealand’s iconic Taieri River is a river of two halves, according to a surprising new study led by University of Otago scientists.

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University of Otago Large Lake & Fjord Coring System

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 10:51am

The Geology Department recently acquired a UWITEC® percussion piston corer and coring platform that will be used to obtain continuous sediment cores from large lakes and fjords in New Zealand and abroad.

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Whale family tree catalogued (ODT Article)

Friday, 17 April 2015 10:35am

New University of Otago research is providing the most comprehensive picture of the nearly 40million year-long evolutionary history of baleen whales, which are the largest animals ever to live on Earth. The study also reflected the importance of ancient marine mammal research being undertaken at the university, Prof Ewan Fordyce, of the Otago geology department, said.

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Otago research details 40 million-year-old family tree of baleen whales

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 4:37pm

New University of Otago research is providing the most comprehensive picture of the evolutionary history of baleen whales, which are not only the largest animals ever to live on earth, but also among the most unusual.

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Otago scientists funded to study effects of warming on Antarctic ice cover

Monday, 2 March 2015 10:11am

Two new research projects led, and another co-led, by University of Otago scientists are set to improve the understanding of how Antarctica’s ice cover will change as the world warms.

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Oldest fur seal identified, ending 5-million-year ‘ghost lineage’

Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:24am

The oldest known fur seal has been discovered by a University of Otago Geology PhD student, providing a missing link that helps to resolve a more than 5-million-year gap in fur seal and sea lion evolutionary history.

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Deep Fault Drilling Project 2 News

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 8:45am

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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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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Otago academics elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 2:16pm

Four leading University of Otago academics are among the 12 top New Zealand researchers and scholars in basic and applied science and the humanities newly elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

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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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'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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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.