Deep Fault Drilling Project

The Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) is an international science project studying the Alpine Fault in western South Island. It will retrieve rock and fluid samples, make geophysical and hydraulic measurements, and establish a long term monitoring observatory inside the fault zone.

Other projects around the world have drilled into major faults, but usually not long after they have ruptured in an earthquake. The Alpine Fault is thought to be ready to fail in a large earthquake within coming decades, so it provides an opportunity to take a close look at a fault in the late phase of its seismic cycle. The drilling project is therefore of international scientific significance, but is also important to New Zealand because it will provide new scientific insights into how the fault operates, and the sort of earthquake we can expect.

“DFDP-2” refers to the second stage of the Deep Fault Drilling Project and to the 1.3km-deep borehole that is intended to be drilled during this phase of the project.

Where is drilling taking place?

The first phase of the Deep Fault Drilling Project was completed in February 2011 with the completion of two shallow boreholes intersecting the Alpine Fault at Gaunt Creek, near Whataroa.

The second phase of the project, DFDP-2, will take place on farmland in the Whataroa River valley, upstream from the State Highway 6 bridge. The drill site is about 1km east of SH6.

There is lots more information about the Deep Fault Drilling Project here