Department of Geology


Virtual Field Trip: Alpine Fault


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The Department of Geology has been involved in a detailed study of the Alpine Fault and Southern Alps since the late 1970s. Our research programme is currently funded by FRST in conjunction with the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, and by the University of Otago. We collaborate with a number of national and international groups, particularly including members of the Earth and Ocean Sciences Department at the University of Liverpool.


Researchers involved in this work are Professor Richard Norris, Professor Sean Fitzsimons, Professor Alan Cooper.

Recent and ongoing research projects include:

Mapping of quaternary offsets and paleoseismic trenching in the South Westland area.

Investigation of the record of past seismic events in lake sediment cores - PhD student Jamie Howarth

Structure of the fault zone and detailed investigation of the zone of fault rocks with respect to fault kinematics and mechanisms of deformation

Researchers involved in this work are Dr Virginia Toy, Professor Richard Norris, Professor Alan Cooper.

Recent and ongoing student research projects include:

Mapping of along-strike continuity of the fault rock sequence and construction of a 3D model of the fault zone in the Waitangi-taona River area - MSc student Luke Easterbrook-Clarke

Study of comparative fault mechanics and fault zone weakening processes from ductile to brittle regimes in quartzofeldspathic, mafic and ultramafic protoliths, based in the Cascade region - PhD Student Nicolas Barth

Comparative study of pseudotachylytes in the footwall, hangingwall and fault core in the central Alpine Fault - BSc(Hons) student Sam Ritchie

Investigations of the chemical-mechanical processes involved in generation of shallow coseismic fault rocks and coseismic weakening/localisation - PhD student Carolyn Boulton of the University of Canterbury

Investigations of along-strike variations in deformation mechanisms and kinematics within the mylonite zone - PhD student Edward Dempsey of the University of Liverpool.


Click on a red dot to open a new page

Location map

This demonstration allows you to go on a virtual field trip along the Alpine Fault and see some of the key outcrops. Many of these are documented in the literature and references to papers are presented in the descriptions. The sites are shown on the accompanying map - click on the red dot to view photos of that area.

Note: for other maps of NZ try here.


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