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Tangaroa Blog #1 Off to sea

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This weekend I’ll be joining a team of scientists from NZ, USA and Japan aboard NIWA’s research vessel, Tangaroa as they try and learn more about the Hikurangi plate boundary.

The Hikurangi plate boundary lies just off the East Coast of New Zealand and is where the Pacific tectonic plate subducts (or dives) underneath the Australian tectonic plate and is known as subduction zone.

Subduction zones are a type of fault and are responsible for the largest and most powerful earthquakes and tsunamis in the world such as the magnitude 9 earthquake offshore Japan in 2011.

This voyage is part of a larger research programme called the ‘Hikurangi subduction earthquakes and slip behaviour’, which aims to learn more about the Hikurangi plate boundary and the risk it poses to NZ.

During the first part of the voyage, we’ll head from Wellington up the coast to Gisborne then back down the coast to Mahia where scientists will be retrieving five seafloor pressure instruments and deploying nine more.

These instruments measure the vertical movement of the sea floor and once in place will record continuously til they are collected next year.

For the second part of the voyage, we’ll head from Gisborne, down the coast to Wellington (potentially as far as Kaikoura), where scientists will be collecting samples called cores off the seafloor to obtain a record of submarine landsliding triggered by the Kaikoura earthquake.

These samples will be logged and analysed in the container ship lab on board and then once on land will be reanalysed and further testing carried out.

I’ll be blogging along the way and be sharing my experiences of the voyage and life aboard the Tangaroa, over the next coupe of weeks.

This is my first ever voyage so I have no idea of what to expect. Fingers crossed I don’t get too sea sick and can actually blog..

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