Nelson Urban Geology

Geological Summary

The urban area of Nelson has a complex variety of Late Paleozoic to Mesozoic igneous and sedimentary basement rocks exposed in the hills to the east. Hills around central Nelson are comprised of Eocene, Miocene and Pliocene sandstone, mudstone and limestone, overlain in places by Quaternary alluvial and colluvial sediments, particularly in valley floors and near flatter coastal areas. The Quaternary sediments dominate the near-surface geology of Tahunanui, Stoke, Richmond and Hope.

Maps and Information

There are no geological mapping projects underway or imminent in the Nelson area. Previously completed maps include:

1998/2018: QMAP 1:250 000 geological map

For wider and more generalised geological context of the Nelson area, a 1:250 000 geological map was printed with an accompanying an explanatory text. Digital GIS and image versions of the map are available on DVD. The digital version has since been updated in a national GIS dataset at that nominal scale. The underlying GIS datasets have rich feature attributes.

  • Rattenbury, M.S.; Cooper, R.A.; Johnston, M.R. (compilers) 1998. Geology of the Nelson area(external link). Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences 1:250 000 geological map 9. Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited. 67 p. + 1 sheet.
  • Heron, D.W. (custodian) 2018. Geological Map of New Zealand 1:250 000(external link). GNS Science geological map 1 (2nd edition). Lower Hutt, New Zealand. GNS Science.

A geological map image can be downloaded(external link) or interrogated through the geological map application(external link). For GIS users, the QMAP geological feature layers can be downloaded from GNS Science’s Web Map/Feature Service(external link).

1979: 1:25 000 geological map

The city area of Nelson is covered by a 1:25 000 geological map published in 1979 (Johnston 1979). This is a printed map with a comprehensive accompanying text.

  • Johnston, M.R. 1979. Geology of the Nelson urban area(external link). New Zealand Geological Survey urban series map 1. New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Wellington. 52 p. + 1 sheet.

For GIS users, the layer NZL-Urban Nelson geological units can be downloaded from GNS Science’s Web Map Service(external link).    

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