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Hazards of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone 2017 Short Course

How well will your organisation cope with a future Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake?

This 1.5 day course will present state-of-the-art knowledge of Hikurangi subduction zone hazards in New Zealand, and will help you better understand how your organisation can better prepare for, and mitigate against, a future earthquake and tsunami crisis. The course will be presented by scientists from across a range of disciplines.

On the 5th and 6th October 2017 a short course will be presented on the wide-ranging topic of hazards of the Hikurangi subduction zone. The course is designed for those involved in all aspects of natural hazard management: planners, educators, engineers, local and central government policy makers, insurance managers, emergency managers and business, utility and property owners.

The Hikurangi subduction zone runs along the northeast coast of the South Island and along the east coast of the North Island. The subduction zone is capable of generating earthquakes of magnitude 8 and larger. In addition to widespread ground shaking, such an earthquake is also likely to produce a tsunami, coastal uplift and subsidence, landslides and liquefaction. Such an event will have enormous economic and social consequences. This short course will present up-to-date science knowledge about the Hikurangi subduction zone and the range of natural hazards associated with living on an active plate boundary.

We encourage participants from across New Zealand to attend, and particularly those from east coast regions stretching from Canterbury to the Bay of Plenty. The course will be 1.5 days, starting 10 am on the 5th of October and finishing at lunchtime on the 6th October. The short course will be held in Napier, at the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The course registration fee is $150. 


Please download and fill in this form, and email to Daryl Barton.
Hikurangi Short Course 2017 Registration.docx (21.40 kB)


Subduction zones are a type of plate boundary fault where one tectonic plate dives down or “subducts” beneath another. They are responsible for the largest and most powerful earthquakes and tsunamis in the world, such as Sumatra’s Boxing Day earthquake in 2004, and the Magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan in 2011.The Hikurangi subduction zone, lying offshore and beneath the east coast of the North Island and northern South Island, is New Zealands’ largest and fastest-moving fault, and is potentially our largest source of earthquake and tsunami hazard. We know that the Hikurangi subduction zone can produce large earthquakes and tsunamis, and that such events have occurred in the past. A significant amount of research has been undertaken to understand more about the seismic and tsunami hazard of the Hikurangi subduction zone and what the potential consequences of a large subduction earthquake will be.

Course content: 

Subduction zone basics: terminology of subduction zones, Pacific Rim of Fire, NZ plate tectonic setting, great subduction earthquakes in history.

Overview of the Hikurangi subduction zone: Characteristics of the Hikurangi subduction zone; current research projects and their contributions to understanding hazard.

Tracking the movement of the Hikurangi subduction zone: What is the Hikurangi subduction zone doing right now? What are slow slip events and what do they mean for earthquake hazard?

Seismicity of the Hikurangi subduction zone: Historic & prehistoric earthquakes of the Hikurangi subduction zone; patterns of seismicity along the margin and what it means for seismic hazard; insights from the Kaikoura earthquake; modelling of subduction earthquake ground motions; New Zealand seismic hazard model.

Tsunami hazard of the Hikurangi subduction zone: historic & prehistoric tsunamis of the Hikurangi subduction zone; introduction to tsunami modelling; tsunami scenarios of the Hikurangi subduction zone and probabilistic tsunami hazard modelling; evacuation zone mapping; current tsunami research projects along the Hikurangi subduction zone.

Landslide and liquefaction hazards: coseismic landslides and likely impacts from a large subduction earthquake; insights from the Kaikōura earthquake; liquefaction hazard along the Hikurangi subduction zone; current research on landslides and liquefaction hazards. 

Risk, planning and communities: using Riskscape to assess impacts of a subduction earthquake; planning for a subduction earthquake and tsunami; marae-based preparedness; outreach and communication of Hikurangi subduction zone hazards.


The course will be presented by scientists from GNS Science and the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University.

Laura Wallace is a Geodetic Scientist at GNS Science. She uses geodetic methods to investigate deformation of the Earth’s crust at plate boundaries, with a particular focus on subduction zones. She is particularly interested in understanding the physical mechanisms that control subduction thrust earthquakes and slow slip events and is involved in conveying underpinning scientific research to the latest generations of the NZ National Seismic Hazard model and  Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard model. 

Kate Clark is an Earthquake Geologist at GNS Science. Her research focusses on using the geological record to determine the magnitude and frequency of prehistoric earthquakes and tsunamis along the Hikurangi margin and translating this into understanding the likely future impacts of large earthquakes. 

Sally Dellow is an Engineering Geologist at GNS Science. Her work focuses on understanding secondary earthquake hazards such as liquefaction and landslides and these might impact communities and the environment. A Hikurangi margin earthquake will affect a large area with potential for widespread landslides and liquefaction in susceptible areas.

Caroline Holden is a strong-motion seismologist at GNS Science. Her research focuses on understanding rupture mechanism of past last earthquakes and modelling ground shaking for future large earthquakes (Alpine Fault, Hikurangi subduction). She has also been a GeoNet duty officer for the past 8 years. 

Professor David Johnston is a Senior Scientist at GNS Science and Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research in the School of Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. His research focuses on human responses to volcano, tsunami, earthquake and weather warnings, crisis decision-making and the role of public education and participation in building community resilience and recovery.

Nick Horspool is a Natural Hazard Risk Specialist with GNS Science. His work involves developing and applying natural hazard risk models to a range of applications, from disaster management planning to the (re)insurance industry, with a particular focus on earthquake and tsunami perils. Nick is the co-leader of the RiskScape project which provides a modular framework to estimate impacts and losses for assets exposed to natural hazards. 

Stuart Henrys is a Marine Geophysicist at GNS Science. His research focuses on how plate tectonic plates collide and break apart. Stuart uses seismic methods to provide detailed images of the earth’s crust and integrate these with a wide range of other geophysical and geological observations. The results underpin geological hazard analysis.  

This course is being run by GNS Science in association with East Coast Lab and the Natural Hazards Research Platform. 

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