Staff profiles

Nicola LitchfieldEarthquake Geologist/Tectonic Geomorphologist

Litchfield Nicola 2519





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Nicola is a Principal Scientist in the Paleoseismology Team, based at Avalon, Lower Hutt. She studies past earthquakes and their impacts on the landscape, which in turn informs seismic hazard and risk. Research interests include understanding the formation of marine terraces and their use to record earthquakes along the Hikurangi Subduction Zone, understanding the interactions between upper plate faults and the Hikurangi subduction interface, and kinematics and behaviour of active faults in a variety of geological settings. Nicola is the science leader of the It’s Our Fault programme and is a key member of the NZ Community Fault Model and NZ National Seismic Hazard Model projects.


  • PhD, geology
  • BSc, geology
  • MSc, geology

Areas of expertise

  • Geophysics: Seismic hazard models
  • Geology: Paleoseismology
  • Geology: GIS mapping
  • Geology: tectonic geomorphology
  • Geology: Earthquake Geology
  • Geomorphology: Fluvial terrace mapping
  • Geomorphology: marine terrace analysis

Major Publications

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  • Litchfield, N.J.; Morgenstern, R.; Clark, K.J.; Howell, A.; Grant, G.R.; Turnbull, J.C. 2023. Holocene marine terraces as recorders of earthquake uplift : insights from a rocky coast in southern Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 48(2): p. 452-474. DOI: 10.1002/esp.5496.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Humphrey, J.; Morgenstern, R.; Langridge, R.M.; Coffey, G.L.; Van Dissen, R.J. 2023. The New Zealand Paleoseismic Site Database, Version 1.0, Seismological Research Letters 95(1): p. 64-77. DOI: 10.1785/0220230150.
  • Ninis, D.; Little, T.; Litchfield, N.J.; Wang, N.; Jacobs, K.M.; Henderson, C.M. 2022. Pleistocene marine terraces of the Wellington south coast–their distribution across multiple active faults at the southern Hikurangi subduction margin, Aotearoa New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 65(1): p. 242-263. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2021.2011329.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Humphrey, J.; Morgenstern, R.; Langridge, R.M.; Coffey, G.L.; Van Dissen, R.J. 2022. New Zealand Paleoseismic Site Database : design and overview of version 1.0 DOI: 10.21420/VTPT-KB52.
  • Seebeck, H.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Litchfield, N.J.; Barnes, P.M.; Nicol, A.; Langridge, R.M.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Villamor, P.; Ellis, S.M.; Rattenbury, M.S.; Bannister, S.; Gerstenberger, M.C.; Ghisetti, F.; Sutherland, R.; Fraser, J.; Nodder, S.D.; Stirling, 2022. New Zealand Community Fault Model – version 1.0 DOI: 10.21420/GA7S-BS61.
  • Dickson, M.E.; Omidiji, J.; Litchfield, N.J.; Norton, K.P.; Matsumoto, H.; Krier-Mariani, R.L.; Horton, S.L.; Acharya-Chowdhury, L.; McLean, A.D.; Hurst, M.D.; Stephenson, W.J. 2022. Observations of the incipient and penultimate stages of Holocene marine terrace development, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 47(13): p. 3019-3032. DOI: 10.1002/esp.5440.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Howell, A.; Clark, K.J.; Coffey, G.L. 2021. It's Our Fault Hikurangi Subduction Zone hazard : south Palliser Bay Holocene marine terraces DOI: 10.21420/8VDN-AE32.
  • Barrell, D.J.A.; Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Wang, N.; Taylor Silva, B.I.; Hornblow, S.; Stirling, M.W. 2020. Investigations of past earthquakes on the Titri Fault, coastal Otago, New Zealand DOI: 10.21420/G2TW6S.
  • Taylor-Silva, B.I.; Stirling, M.W.; Litchfield, N.J.; Griffin, J.D.; van den Berg, E.J.; Wang, N. 2020. Paleoseismology of the Akatore Fault, Otago, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 63(2): p. 151-167. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1645706.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Clark, K.J.; Cochran, U.A.; Palmer, A.S.; Mountjoy, J.; Mueller, C.; Morgenstern, R.; Berryman, K.R.; McFadgen, B.G.; Steele, R.; Reitman, N.; Howarth, J.D.; Villamor, P. 2020. Marine terraces reveal complex near-shore upper-plate faulting in the northern Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 110(2): p. 825-849. DOI: 10.1785/0120190208.
  • Clark, K.J.; Howarth, J.D.; Litchfield, N.J.; Cochran, U.A.; Turnbull, J.C.; Dowling, L.; Howell, A.; Berryman, K.R.; Wolfe, F. 2019. Geological evidence for past large earthquakes and tsunamis along the Hikurangi subduction margin, New Zealand, Marine Geology 412: p. 139-172. DOI: 10.1016/j.margeo.2019.03.004.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Villamor, P.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Nicol, A.; Barnes, P.M.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Pettinga, J.R.; Langridge, R.M.; Little, T.A.; Mountjoy, J.J.; Ries, W.F.; Rowland, J.; Fenton, C.; Stirling, M.W.; Kearse, J.; Berryman, K.R.; Cochran, U.A.; Clar 2018. Surface rupture of multiple crustal faults in the 2016 MW 7.8 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 108(3B): p. 1496-1520. DOI: 10.1785/0120170300.
  • Clark, K.J.; Nissen, E.K.; Howarth, J.D.; Hamling, I.J.; Mountjoy, J.J.; Ries, W.F.; Jones, K.E.; Goldstein, S.; Cochran, U.A.; Villamor, P.; Hreinsdottir, S.; Litchfield, N.J.; Mueller, C.; Berryman, K.R.; Strong, D.T. 2017. Highly variable coastal deformation in the 2016 MW7.8 Kaikoura earthquake reflects rupture complexity along a transpressional plate boundary, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 474: p. 334-344. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.06.048.
  • Hamling, I.J.; Hreinsdottir, S.; Clark, K.J.; Elliot, J.; Liang, C.; Fielding, E.; Litchfield, N.J.; Villamor, P.; Wallace, L.M.; Wright, T.J.; D'Anastasio, E.; Bannister, S.; Burbidge, D.R.; Denys, P.; Gentle, P.; Howarth, J.D.; Mueller, C.; Palmer, N.G. 2017. Complex multifault rupture during the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, New Zealand, Science 356(6334): eaam7194. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam7194.
  • Langridge, R.M.; Ries, W.F.; Litchfield, N.J.; Villamor, P.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Rattenbury, M.S.; Heron, D.W.; Haubrock, S.N.; Townsend, D.B.; Lee, J.M.; Berryman, K.R.; Nicol, A.; Cox, S.C.; Stirling, M.W. 2016. The New Zealand Active Faults Database, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 59(1): p. 86-96. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2015.1112818.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Clark, K.J. 2015. Fluvial terrace formation in the lower Awhea and Pahaoa River valleys, New Zealand : implications for tectonic and sea-level controls, Geomorphology 231: p. 212-228. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.12.009.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Sutherland, R.; Barnes, P.M.; Cox, S.C.; Norris, R.; Beavan, R.J.; Langridge, R.M.; Villamor, P.; Berryman, K.R.; Stirling, M.W.; Nicol, A.; Nodder, S.; Lamarche, G.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Pettinga, J.R.; Little, T.; Pondard 2014. A model of active faulting in New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 57(1): p. 32-56. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2013.854256.
  • Quigley, M.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Litchfield, N.J.; Villamor, P.; Duffy, B.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Furlong, K.; Stahl, T.; Bilderback, E.; Noble, D. 2012. Surface rupture during the 2010 Mw 7.1 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake : implications for fault rupture dynamics and seismic-hazard analysis, Geology 40(1): p. 55-58. DOI: 10.1130/G32528.1.
  • Stirling, M.W.; McVerry, G.H.; Gerstenberger, M.C.; Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Berryman, K.R.; Barnes, P.; Wallace, L.M.; Villamor, P.; Langridge, R.M.; Lamarche, G.; Nodder, S.; Reyners, M.E.; Bradley, B.; Rhoades, D.A.; Smith, W.D.; Nicol, A.; 2012. National seismic hazard model for New Zealand : 2010 update, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 102(4): p. 1514-1542. DOI: 10.1785/0120110170.
  • Robinson, R.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Litchfield, N.J. 2011. Using synthetic seismicity to evaluate seismic hazard in the Wellington region, New Zealand, Geophysical Journal International 187(1): p. 510-528. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05161.x.
  • Berryman, K.R.; Ota, Y.; Miyauchi, T.; Hull, A.; Clark, K.J.; Ishibashi, K.; Iso, N.; Litchfield, N.J. 2011. Holocene paleoseismic history of upper-plate faults in the southern Hikurangi subduction margin, New Zealand, deduced from marine terrace records, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 101(5): p. 2064-2087. DOI: 10.1785/0120100282.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen. R.J.; Hemphill-Haley, M.; Townsend, D.B.; Heron, D.W. 2010. Post c.300 year rupture of the Ohariu Fault in Ohariu Valley, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 53(1): p. 43-56. DOI: 10.1080/00288301003631780.
  • Wallace, L.M.; Reyners, M.E.; Cochran, U.A.; Bannister, S.; Barnes, P.M.; Berryman, K.R.; Downes, G.L.; Eberhart-Phillips, D.; Fagereng, A.; Ellis, S.M.; Nicol, A.; McCaffrey, R.; Beavan, R.J.; Henrys, S.A.; Sutherland, R.; Barker, D.H.N.; Litchfield, N.J 2009. Characterizing the seismogenic zone of a major plate boundary subduction thrust : Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 10(10): Q10006. DOI: 10.1029/2009GC002610.
  • Berryman, K.R.; Marden, M.; Palmer, A.; Litchfield, N.J. 2009. Holocene rupture of the Repongaere Fault, Gisborne : implications for Raukumara Peninsula deformation and impact on the Waipaoa Sedimentary System, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 52(4): p. 335-347. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2009.9518462.
  • Litchfield, N.J. 2008. Using fluvial terraces to determine Holocene coastal erosion and Late Pleistocene uplift rates : an example from northwestern Hawke Bay, New Zealand, Geomorphology 99(1-4): p. 369-386. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.12.001.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Ellis, S.M.; Berryman, K.R.; Nicol, A. 2007. Insights into subduction-related uplift along the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand, using numerical modeling, Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface 112(F2): F02021. DOI: 10.1029/2006JF000535.
  • Alloway, B.V.; Lowe, D.J.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Newnham, R.M.; Almond, P.C.; Augustinus, P.C.; Bertler, N.A.N.; Carter, L.; Litchfield, N.J.; McGlone, M.S.; Shulmeister, J.; Vandergoes, M.J.; Williams, P.W.; NZ-INTIMATE members 2007. Towards a climate event stratigraphy for New Zealand over the past 30,000 years (NZ-INTIMATE project), Journal of Quaternary Science 22(1): p. 9-35.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Heron, D.W.; Rhoades, D.A. 2006. Constraints on the timing of the three most recent surface rupture events and recurrence interval for the Ohariu Fault : trenching results from MacKays Crossing, Wellington, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 49(1): p. 57-61. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2006.9515147.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Berryman, K.R. 2006. Relations between postglacial fluvial incision rates and uplift rates in the North Island, New Zealand, Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface 111(2): F02007. DOI: 10.1029/2005JF000374.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Berryman, K.R. 2005. Correlation of fluvial terraces within the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand : implications for climate and baselevel controls, Geomorphology 68(3/4): p. 291-313.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Langridge, R.M.; Heron, D.W.; Prentice, C. 2004. Timing of the most recent surface rupture event on the Ohariu Fault near Paraparaumu, New Zealand : short communication, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 47(1): p. 123-127. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2004.9515041.
  • Litchfield, N.J.; Campbell, J.K.; Nicol, A. 2003. Recognition of active reverse faults and folds in North Canterbury, New Zealand, using structural mapping and geomorphic analysis, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 46(4): p. 563-579. DOI: 10.1080/00288306.2003.9515030.

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