Dougal Townsend


Full Name: Dougal Townsend

Position: Geologist

Contact details

Email me here
Phone: +64-4-570 4543

Specialist Profile

Dougal is a senior geologist in the Geological Mapping and Stratigraphy team. His main focus is on producing geological and geomorphological maps. He works closely with staff from other teams at GNS, particularly those in Volcanology, Landslides and Earthquake Geology. One of his strengths is having a broad understanding of New Zealand geology, particularly in the northern South Island-southern North Island regions. The advent of high-resolution digital terrain data allows remote landscape interpretation, but he still enjoys getting out into the field whenever possible. Fieldwork has taken him to many remote parts of New Zealand and places as far away as Antarctica. His passion for landscape photography ties in well with response work and aerial surveying following major natural events.


1995: BSc, Geology; 1996: BSc (1st class) Honors, Geology; 2001: PhD

Areas of expertise

Geology: Active fault studies
Geology: Antarctic geology
Geology: Cenozoic stratigraphy
Geology: Digital terrain models
Geology: Earthquake Geology
Geology: Field mapping
Geology: Field mapping & compilation
Geology: GIS
Geology: GIS mapping
Geology: Geological mapping
Geology: Geological mapping using GIS
Geology: Geomorphology
Geology: Glaciology
Geology: Holocene neotectonic activity
Geology: Lahars and debris flow
Geology: Landscape evolution
Geology: Landslide Processes
Geology: Landslides
Geology: Late Quaternary deformations
Geology: Map production
Geology: Neogene Stratigraphy
Geology: New Zealand Geology
Geology: Outcrop geology
Geology: Paleoseismology
Geology: Quaternary geology
Geology: Quaternary research
Geology: Quaternary studies
Geology: Regional Geology
Geology: Structural Geology
Geology: Structural geological mapping
Geology: Tectonics
Geology: Tephrastratigraphy
Geology: Volcano-tectonic studies
Geology: Volcanology
Geology: tectonic geomorphology

Major publications

Barrell, D.J.A.; Townsend, D.B.; FitzGerald, T.M. 2021 A geomorphological characterisation of the coastal environment of the West Coast Region, South Island. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2021/46. 31 p.; doi: 10.21420/XCBA-DK53

Cole, R.P.; White, J.D.L.; Townsend, D.B.; Leonard, G.S.; Conway, C.E. 2020 Glaciovolcanic emplacement of an intermediate hydroclastic breccia-lobe complex during the penultimate glacial period (190–130 ka), Ruapehu volcano, New Zealand. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 132(9/10): 1903-1913; doi: 10.1130/B35297.1

Massey, C.I.; Townsend, D.B.; Jones, K.E.; Lukovic, B.; Rhoades, D.A.; Morgenstern, R.; Rosser, B.J.; Ries, W.; Howarth, J.D.; Hamling, I.J.; Petley, D.M.; Clark, M.; Wartman, J.; Litchfield, N.J.; Olsen, M. 2020 Volume characteristics of landslides triggered by the Mw7.8 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake, New Zealand, derived from digital surface difference modelling. Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface, 125(7): e2019JF005163; doi: 10.1029/2019JF005163

Massey, C.I.; Townsend, D.B.; Lukovic, B.; Morgenstern, R.; Jones, K.E.; Rosser, B.J.; de Vilder, S.J. 2020 Landslides triggered by the 14 November 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake : an update. Landslides, 17(10): 2401-2408; doi: 10.1007/s10346-020-01439-x

Townsend, D.B.; Massey, C.I.; Lukovic, B.; Rosser, B.J.; de Vilder, S.J.; Ries, W.F.; Morgenstern, R.; Ashraf, S.; Jones, K.E.; Carey, J.M. 2020 SLIDE (Wellington) : geomorphological characterisation of the Wellington urban area. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2019/28. [194] p.; doi: 10.21420/CHRR-4G41

Langridge, R.M.; Townsend, D.B. 2018 Co-seismic and ongoing land deformation at Mt Lyford Village, North Canterbury. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science miscellaneous series 120. 17 p.; doi: 10.21420/G21M10

Townsend, D.B.; Leonard, G.S.; Conway, C.E.; Eaves, S.R.; Wilson, C.J.N. (compilers) 2017 Geology of the Tongariro National Park area. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science geological map 4. 1 sheet + 109 p., scale 1:60,000

Townsend, D.B.; Begg, J.G.; Van Dissen, R.J.; Rhoades, D.A.; Saunders, W.S.A.; Little, T.A. 2016 Estimating co-seismic subsidence in the Hutt Valley associated with rupture of the Wellington Fault. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 49(3): 283-291

Townsend, D.B.; Lee, J.M.; Strong, D.T.; Jongens, R.; Smith Lyttle, B.; Ashraf, S.; Rosser, B.J.; Perrin, N.D.; Lyttle, K.; Cubrinovski, M.; Taylor, M.L.; Hughes, M.W.; Wilson, T.; Almond, P.; Jacka, M.; McCahon, I.; Christensen, S. 2016 Mapping surface liquefaction caused by the September 2010 and February 2011 Canterbury earthquakes : a digital dataset. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 59(4): 496-513; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2016.1182929

Conway, C.E.; Townsend, D.B.; Leonard, G.S.; Wilson, C.J.N.; Calvert, A.T.; Gamble, J.A. 2015 Lava-ice interaction on a large composite volcano : a case study from Ruapehu, New Zealand. Bulletin of Volcanology, 77(3): article 21; doi: 10.1007/s00445-015-0906-2

Cox, S.C.; Turnbull, I.M.; Isaac, M.J.; Townsend, D.B.; Smith Lyttle, B. (comps) 2012 Geology of southern Victoria Land Antarctica. Lower Hutt: GNS Science. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences 1:250,000 geological map 22. 135 p. + 1 folded map

Lee, J.M.; Bland, K.J.; Townsend, D.B.; Kamp, P.J.J. (comps) 2011 Geology of the Hawke's Bay area : scale 1:250,000. Lower Hutt: GNS Science. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences 1:250,000 geological map 8. 93 p. + 1 folded map

Townsend, D.B.; Vonk, A.; Kamp, P.J.J. (comps) 2008 Geology of the Taranaki area : scale 1:250,000. Lower Hutt: GNS Science. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences 1:250,000 geological map 7. 77 p. + 1 folded map

Rattenbury, M.S.; Townsend, D.B.; Johnston, M.R. (comps) 2006 Geology of the Kaikoura area : scale 1:250,000 geological map. Lower Hutt: GNS Science. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences 1:250,000 geological map 13. 70 p. + 1 folded map

Crampton, J.S.; Laird, M.G.; Nicol, A.; Townsend, D.B.; Van Dissen, R.J. 2003 Palinspastic reconstructions of southeastern Marlborough, New Zealand, for mid-Cretaceous-Eocene times. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 46(2): 153-175; doi: 10.1080/00288306.2003.9515002

Townsend, D.B.; Little, T.A. 1998 Pliocene-Quaternary deformation and mechanisms of near-surface strain close to the eastern tip of the Clarence Fault, northeast Marlborough, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 41(4): 401-417; doi: 10.1080/00288306.1998.9514819

  Image of Dougal Townsend