Nicola Litchfield


Full Name: Nicola Litchfield

Position: Earthquake Geologist/Tectonic Geomorphologist

Contact details

Email me here
Phone: +64-4-570 4891

Specialist Profile

Nicola is a senior earthquake geologist 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 National Seismic Hazard Model projects.


1993: BSc, geology; 1996: MSc(Hons) (1st class honours), geology; 2000: PhD, geology

Areas of expertise

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

Professional activities

American Geophysical Union: Member
Geoscience Society of New Zealand: Member
Australia/NZ Geomorphology Group: Member
New Zealand Archeolological Association: Member
New Zealand Coastal Society: Member
Seismological Society of America: Member

Major publications

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. Lower Hutt, NZ: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2021/52. 27 p.; doi: 10.21420/VTPT-KB52

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): 242-263; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2021.2011329

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, M.W.; Humphrey, J.; Bland, K.J.; Howell, A.; Mountjoy, J.J.; Moon, V.; Stahl, T.; Spinardi, F.; Townsend, D.B.; Clark, K.J.; Hamling, I.J.; Cox, S.C.; de Lange, W.; Wopereis, P.; Johnston, M.; Morgenstern, R.; Coffey, G.L.; Eccles, J.D.; Little, T.A.; Fry, B.; Griffin, J.; Townend, J.; Mortimer, N.; Alcaraz, S.A.; Massiot, C.; Rowland, J.; Muirhead, J.; Upton, P.; Hirschberg, H.; Lee, J.M. 2022 New Zealand Community Fault Model – version 1.0. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2021/57. 97 p.; doi: 10.21420/GA7S-BS61

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. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2021/28. 47 p.; 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. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2017/35. 66 p.; doi: 10.21420/G2TW6S

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): 825-849; doi: 10.1785/0120190208

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): 151-167; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2019.1645706

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: 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.; Clark, K.J.; Hemphill-Haley, M.; Khajavi, N.; Jones, K.E.; Archibald, G.C.; Upton, P.; Asher, C.; Benson, A.; Cox, S.C.; Gasston, C.; Hale, D.; Hall, B.; Hatem, A.E.; Heron, D.W.; Howarth, J.D.; Kane, T.J.; Lamarche, G.; Lawson, S.; Lukovic, B.; McColl, S.T.; Madugo, C.; Manousakis, J.; Noble, D.; Pedley, K.; Sauer, K.; Stahl, T.; Strong, D.T.; Townsend, D.B.; Toy, V.G.; Williams, J.; Woelz, S.; Zinke, R. 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): 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: 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.; Pearson, C.; Power, W.L.; Barnes, P.; Barrell, D.J.A.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Langridge, R.M.; Little, T.; Nicol, A.; Pettinga, J.; Rowland, J.; Stirling, M.W. 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): 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: 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, N.; Mountjoy, J.J.; Clark, K.J. 2014 A model of active faulting in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 57(1): 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): 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.; Pettinga, J.; Clark, K.J.; Jacobs, K.M. 2012 National seismic hazard model for New Zealand : 2010 update. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 102(4): 1514-1542; doi: 10.1785/0120110170

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): 2064-2087; doi: 10.1785/0120100282

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): 510-528; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05161.x

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): 43-56; doi: 10.1080/00288301003631780

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): 335-347; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2009.9518462

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.; Townend, J.; Robinson, R.; Bell, R.E.; Wilson, K.J.; Power, W.L. 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

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): 369-386; doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.12.001

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): 9-35

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

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.; 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): 57-61; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2006.9515147

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): 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): 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): 563-579; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2003.9515030

  Image of Nicola Litchfield