Back to top

Hikurangi Subduction Earthquakes & Slip Behaviour

Project Period: Now - September 2021

Organisations: GNS Science, NIWA, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, University of Auckland, University of Otago, and the University of Canterbury

Project Funders: Endeavour Fund, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (New Zealand)

Project Location: East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand


Nō te tau, rua mano, tekau mā ono, tae noa atu ki te tau rua mano, e rua tekau mā tahi, ka rangahau tētahi whakaminenga kaipūtaiao nō Aotearoa, nō tāwāhi hoki i te paenga papaneke o Hikurangi kia whai mārama ai i ngā tūraru ka pāngia rānei ki Aotearoa nei. He āinga whakararo te paenga papaneke o Hikurangi nei, ā, kei reira ka āia te papaneke moana o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa ki raro tonu i papaneke paparahi o Te Pāpaka-a-Māui. Nā te āinga whakararo e pērā ana ko tētahi momo hapa, ā, he nui ngā rū whenua me ngā tai āniwhaniwha ka hua ake, pērā me Sumatra i te tau rua mano mā whā, pērā me Hiri i te tau rua mano mā tekau, pērā hoki me Hapani i te tau rua mano tekau mā tahi. Ka tauakitia ngā mahi a kaipūtaiao nō Aotearoa e te pūtea nanaiore a Te Hīkina Whakatutuki.

A large team of national and international scientists will be studying the Hikurangi plate boundary to find out what risk it poses to New Zealand. The Hikurangi plate boundary is where the Pacific tectonic plate subducts (or dives underneath) the Australian tectonic plate and is what scientists call a subduction zone.

The Hikurangi subduction zone is poorly understood, yet potentially the largest source of earthquake and tsunami hazard in New Zealand. Subduction zones are a type of fault and are responsible for the largest and most powerful earthquakes and tsunamis in the world, such as Sumatra 2004, Chile 2010, and Japan 2011. We know that the Hikurangi subduction zone can produce large earthquakes and tsunamis, and that these events have occurred in the past. However, we don’t know how often these earthquakes tend to happen, nor do we know how large they can be.

A large component of the project involves building and installing seafloor sensors off the East Coast to detect offshore earthquakes, slow slip events, and reveal New Zealand’s offshore plate tectonic movements for the first time. Similar types of sensors could be used in tsunami and earthquake early warning systems in the future and will create new technological capability for New Zealand. Part of this project provides resources for New Zealand scientists to work on the new data being collected by visiting specialised research ships that carry out drilling and seismic imaging. This data will tell them about the physical conditions and rock types at the plate boundary, and reveal what is causing the Hikurangi subduction zone to move slowly (in slow slip events) or suddenly (in earthquakes). This helps scientists understand what has influenced earthquakes and tsunamis in the past, so they can better anticipate what might happen in the future.

The scientists will also be gathering geological and historical evidence for past large Hikurangi earthquakes to improve our understanding of subduction zone hazards posed to New Zealand. This involves collecting offshore cores and studying coastal sediments to explore the geological record of past earthquake and tsunami events. They will be working with iwi partners to integrate Mātauranga Māori of past Hikurangi earthquakes and tsunami.

The research ship JOIDES resolution is undertaking scientific drilling research from Dec-Jan 2018 and March-May 2018 offshore of the North Island’s East Coast to learn more about the processes that drive large earthquakes and tsunami. We are aware that some people are concerned about the drilling and coring research that is being undertaken and its purpose. The specific region being studied in this expedition is already known to have no potential as a gas hydrate resource, which is part of the reason drilling can proceed safely. New Zealand’s participation in this expedition and in the International Ocean Discovery Programme is supported by Government scientific research funds. We believe the more we understand about what causes these natural hazards to happen, the better we can be prepared.

For more information check out these three project fact sheets:

  1. Hikurangi Project Overview Fact Sheet
  2. Hikurangi IODP Drilling Fact Sheet
  3. Hikurangi Seismic Surveying Fact Sheet

Related News Items


R/V Tangaroa returns to the Hikurangi subduction zone in search of slow slip

R/V Tangaroa returns to the Hikurangi subduction zone in search of slow slip

18 October 2021

A team of scientists are at sea off the coast of Gisborne onboard NIWA research vessel Tangaroa, deploying sensors ...

Read more

1 in 4 chance of a magnitude 8  Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake in the next fifty years

1 in 4 chance of a magnitude 8 Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake in the next fifty years

22 July 2021

Scientists say there is 26% chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake occurring on the southern portion of the Hikurangi s...

Read more

New slow slip event prompts scientists’ dash to install instruments

New slow slip event prompts scientists’ dash to install instruments

3 June 2021

Scientists from GNS Science and Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington are installing instruments acro...

Read more

Scientists dig pits on Wairarapa coast to understand earthquake and tsunami history

Scientists dig pits on Wairarapa coast to understand earthquake and tsunami history

14 April 2021

Scientists have started digging several pits along the south Wairarapa Coast to unearth the secrets of previous ear...

Read more

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle gives insights into M7.3 East Cape quake

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle gives insights into M7.3 East Cape quake

24 March 2021

New Zealand and US scientists have collected new data offshore that may give new insights into the M7.3 earthquake ...

Read more

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle helping scientists collect the latest earthquake data

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle helping scientists collect the latest earthquake data

10 March 2021

A state-of-the-art underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) called ROPOS is helping a team of New Zealand and US ...

Read more

Students touch earthquake fault

Students touch earthquake fault

24 November 2020

Students from Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School became scientists for the day as they learnt about faults, earthq...

Read more

Back-to-back voyages focus on Hikurangi subduction zone

Back-to-back voyages focus on Hikurangi subduction zone

13 November 2020

Scientists from New Zealand, Japan, and the United States are currently involved in two back-to-back voyages to inv...

Read more

Uncovering the secrets of the Pakuratahi Valley

Uncovering the secrets of the Pakuratahi Valley

17 July 2020

Researchers are collecting clues in the Pakuratahi Valley to determine when past Hikurangi subduction zone earthqua...

Read more

Digging for earthquake evidence

Digging for earthquake evidence

13 March 2020

Scientists searching for evidence of past earthquakes have dug a 90 metre long trench in Aramoana, southern Hawke...

Read more

Moving mountains on the ocean floor may hold key to East Coast earthquakes

Moving mountains on the ocean floor may hold key to East Coast earthquakes

4 March 2020

Earthquakes and slow slip events may be influenced by mountains on the ocean floor, or “seamounts”, according t...

Read more

Scientists identify more faults off Gisborne

Scientists identify more faults off Gisborne

28 January 2020

A newly-identified complex fault system north of Gisborne may shed new light on the risks of...

Read more

Seafloor instruments reveal more earthquakes on the offshore Hikurangi subduction zone

Seafloor instruments reveal more earthquakes on the offshore Hikurangi subduction zone

12 November 2019

Data collected from the Hikurangi subduction zone by an international team of scientists led by GNS Science shows t...

Read more

Science talk on Hikurangi subduction zone comes to Manwatū-Whanganui

Science talk on Hikurangi subduction zone comes to Manwatū-Whanganui

5 November 2019

Two of the country’s leading scientists will share the latest research into New Zealand’s largest and most acti...

Read more

Subduction zone research voyage sets off

Subduction zone research voyage sets off

29 October 2019

An international team of scientists sets off today onboard NIWA’s specialised research vessel Tangaroa to collect...

Read more

Gisborne & Wairoa to learn about latest Hikurangi subduction zone research

Gisborne & Wairoa to learn about latest Hikurangi subduction zone research

29 July 2019

Four of the country’s leading scientists will share the latest research into New Zealand’s largest and most act...

Read more

Tairāwhiti students poised for earth movements

Tairāwhiti students poised for earth movements

10 May 2019

Students from five Tairāwhiti schools will get a chance to bring science to life in the coming weeks and months as...

Read more

Unlocking the secrets of the Hikurangi subduction zone

Unlocking the secrets of the Hikurangi subduction zone

3 May 2019

Four of the country’s leading scientists will share the latest research into New Zealand’s largest and most act...

Read more

Hikurangi subduction earthquakes: Stitching the evidence together

Hikurangi subduction earthquakes: Stitching the evidence together

16 April 2019

Beneath the North Island of New Zealand there is a restless sleeper. Usually the sleeper is just breathing deeply b...

Read more

Slow slip earthquake occurring right now off the East Coast

Slow slip earthquake occurring right now off the East Coast

5 April 2019

A slow slip earthquake is currently taking place off the coast of Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay along the Hikurangi su...

Read more

Unlocking the Secrets of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone public talk

Unlocking the Secrets of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone public talk

30 November 2018

Hawke’s Bay people had the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand’s largest fault, the Hikurangi subductio...

Read more

Dr Laura Wallace named as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Dr Laura Wallace named as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand

1 November 2018

Geophysicist Laura Wallace of GNS Science was today named as a 

Read more

Successful mission to record the earth’s rumbles at NZ’s largest fault

Successful mission to record the earth’s rumbles at NZ’s largest fault

26 October 2018

Valuable insights into the risk of earthquakes and tsunami from New Zealand’s largest fault line will be gained a...

Read more

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #5 Back on land

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #5 Back on land

24 October 2018

Read more

Tangaroa Voyage Blog # 4 Wind and Waves

Tangaroa Voyage Blog # 4 Wind and Waves

17 October 2018

Read more

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #3 One week at sea

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #3 One week at sea

12 October 2018

Read more

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #2 First few days at sea

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #2 First few days at sea

9 October 2018

Read more

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #1 It's getting exciting

Tangaroa Voyage Blog #1 It's getting exciting

5 October 2018

Weiwei Wa...

Read more

International research to gather more information about NZ’s largest fault

International research to gather more information about NZ’s largest fault

5 October 2018

An international team of scientists sets off this weekend to place earthquake monitoring instruments along New Zeal...

Read more

Scientists ask for public help in finding missing instruments

Scientists ask for public help in finding missing instruments

23 May 2018

Scientists have asked for public help in finding three ocean bottom seismometers, on loan from Japan, that failed t...

Read more

Popular free hands-on science sessions

Popular free hands-on science sessions

15 May 2018

Young scientists have been making tsunami waves in the wave tank, shaking things up with their ‘earthquake proof ...

Read more

Tapping into New Zealand’s sleeping giant

Tapping into New Zealand’s sleeping giant

5 May 2018

Stretching down the length of the North Island’s east coast lies a sleeping geological giant - the Hikurangi subd...

Read more

R/V JOIDES Resolution Updates

R/V JOIDES Resolution Updates

29 April 2018

The research ship JOIDES resolution is undertaking scientific drilling research from March-May 2018 ...

Read more

Live broadcast with research vessel JOIDES Resolution

Live broadcast with research vessel JOIDES Resolution

19 April 2018

Napier will get the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand’s first offshore earthquake observatories that ar...

Read more

New Zealand’s first offshore observatories are now recording from inside our largest fault

New Zealand’s first offshore observatories are now recording from inside our largest fault

18 April 2018

Two world-class subseafloor observatories are now operating at the northern Hikurangi subduction zone where the Pac...

Read more

Deep-sea observatories will offer a new vision into quakes

Deep-sea observatories will offer a new vision into quakes

12 March 2018

An ambitious mission to lower two sub-seafloor observatories into the Hikurangi subduction zone east of the North I...

Read more

Science at sea 'ship to shore' video opportunity

Science at sea 'ship to shore' video opportunity

1 February 2018

Teachers have the opportunity to sign up for a live 'ship-to-shore' video experience with scientists on bo...

Read more

R/V JOIDES Resolution Updates

R/V JOIDES Resolution Updates

4 January 2018

The research ship JOIDES resolution is undertaking scientific drilling research from Dec-Jan 2018 and March-May 20...

Read more

A shrinking experience for Gisborne students’ artwork

A shrinking experience for Gisborne students’ artwork

19 December 2017

Scientists on board the research vessel JOIDES Resolution have carefully lowered the winning entries from the Eas.....

Read more

Te Matakite – students see into the future of the Hikurangi Plate Boundary

Te Matakite – students see into the future of the Hikurangi Plate Boundary

24 November 2017

Te Hapara Primary School and Gisborne Boys’ High take out top honours in the recent Hikurangi Plate Boundary comp...

Read more

Art meets Science at the Fault

Art meets Science at the Fault

25 October 2017

A Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) region school competition is now open to raise awareness of the Hikurangi plate boundary, ...

Read more

Kaikoura quake triggered widespread slow-slip events

Kaikoura quake triggered widespread slow-slip events

13 September 2017

\nLast November’s magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura quake sparked a series of major slow-slip events on the shallow part of...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #13 Land ahoy

Tangaroa Blog #13 Land ahoy

5 July 2017

Everyone was up bright and early for breakfast at 6am this morning and it was nice having everyone there for our la...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #12 Multibeam and multicore

Tangaroa Blog #12 Multibeam and multicore

4 July 2017

Overnight the multibeam was at work. A multibeam is an instrument that is used to map the seafloor. The instrument ...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #11 Helpful hands

Tangaroa Blog #11 Helpful hands

3 July 2017

The crew notify us of when the multicorer is about to come and then every heads below and gets their safety gear on...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #10 Food, glorious food

Tangaroa Blog #10 Food, glorious food

2 July 2017

We are now further down the coast and have taken a few cores off the coast of Wellington. There have been a few tim...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #9 Mud, mud, mud & more mud

Tangaroa Blog #9 Mud, mud, mud & more mud

1 July 2017

I’m going to be honest here and say I think the geologists have more fun. I mean geologists get to play with mud!...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #8 Getting to the core of it

Tangaroa Blog #8 Getting to the core of it

30 June 2017

Today marks the second stage of voyage with a focus on core samples off various sites off the coasts of Hawke’s B...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #7 All aboard

Tangaroa Blog #7 All aboard

29 June 2017

Now that most of the instruments are out we had out first series of science presentation and looked at some of the ...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #6 GPS boy vs GPS boo-ee

Tangaroa Blog #6 GPS boy vs GPS boo-ee

28 June 2017

At 5am this morning the crew put out the GPS buoy (pronounced boo-ee by the US amongst us and ‘boy’ by the NZer...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #5 More deployments

Tangaroa Blog #5 More deployments

27 June 2017

It was a bit difficult getting to sleep last night with all the noise being created by the midnight to noon shift d...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #4 Seasickness

Tangaroa Blog #4 Seasickness

26 June 2017

Before I left, I joked that there would be a day were I would write ‘sea sick’ and that would be it for the blo...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #3 Noon til midnight

Tangaroa Blog #3 Noon til midnight

25 June 2017

After nearly 10 hours of sleep following my seasickness, I caught up on the meeting that I had missed from last nig...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog # 2 "I’m on a boat"

Tangaroa Blog # 2 "I’m on a boat"

24 June 2017

Late last night I was notified that my flight from Napier to Wellington was unfortunately cancelled due to the weat...

Read more

Tangaroa Blog #1 Off to sea

Tangaroa Blog #1 Off to sea

23 June 2017

This weekend I’ll be joining a team of scientists from NZ, USA and Japan aboard NIWA’s research vessel, Tangaro...

Read more

East Coast Focus for Tangaroa Research Voyage

East Coast Focus for Tangaroa Research Voyage

23 June 2017

A team of scientists will be learning more about the Hikurangi plate boundary over the next two weeks aboard NIWA...

Read more

Science Hui informs communities about proposed Hikurangi Research Programme

Science Hui informs communities about proposed Hikurangi Research Programme

15 June 2017

Communities on the East Coast of the North Island will get the opportunity to find out more about a research progra...

Read more

Earthquake and tsunami detectives at work

Earthquake and tsunami detectives at work

3 May 2017

Researchers from GNS Science have been working at the Pakarae River mouth north of Gisborne looking for evidence of...

Read more

Time for an adventure at sea?

Time for an adventure at sea?

27 March 2017

Have you ever wanted to escape to sea to work on a cutting-edge science project about New Zealand’s largest fault...

Read more

Year-long seafloor scientific investigation off NZ coast to start next year

Year-long seafloor scientific investigation off NZ coast to start next year

9 August 2016

Scientists from across the world will come to New Zealand in 2017 and 2018 to participate in a series of unpreceden...

Read more

Detectives at work: Understanding the Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary

Detectives at work: Understanding the Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary

1 April 2016

National and international scientists have been working on three different research projects that aim to investigat...

Read more

Getting in touch

East Coast Lab
159 Dalton Street, Private Bag 6006 Napier, 4142
P: 06 835 9200
E:info@eastcoastlab.org.nz

Site Map

About

Learn

Our Projects

Disclaimers and Copyright
While every endeavour has been taken by the East Coast Life at the Boundary to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, East Coast Life at the Boundary shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. East Coast Life at the Boundary cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

© East Coast Life at the Boundary - www.eastcoastlab.org.nz / 06 835 9200 / info@eastcoastlab.org.nz