Today, it was announced by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce that $6.5 million is being invested in scientific research to learn more about Hikurangi subduction earthquakes and slip behaviour at the plate boundary off the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
The research will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team of leading New Zealand and international geoscientists with impressive research experience who will transform the science into applied outcomes.
The Hikurangi plate boundary is New Zealand’s least understood, but potentially its largest, source of geohazard. Subduction zones produce the deadliest earthquakes and tsunami, as starkly demonstrated by the 2011 Magnitude 9.0 earthquake offshore northern Japan. An M 9.0 earthquake on the Hikurangi megathrust plate boundary is certainly possible.
Our current lack of knowledge about the potential for earthquakes in the Hikurangi margin makes efforts to forecast the hazards and risks posed by the subduction zone extremely unreliable.
This research programme will provide the first solid, scientific base for meaningful assessments of hazard, risk and potential losses due to great earthquakes on the Hikurangi subduction zone.
The accumulated knowledge will assist with informed decision-making by asset and insurance managers, and help guide engineering practices to mitigate risks and reduce the costs of economic recovery following a major earthquake.
East Coast LAB (Life at the Boundary) will be providing opportunities to learn more about this research over the next five years.
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