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Katie Woods

Katie Woods, PhD student, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)

"“After spending the third year of my undergraduate degree in New Zealand as an exchange student from the University of Leeds in the UK, I realised that I wanted to move here more permanently to continue my study in Geophysics. There’s so much opportunity for amazing fieldwork and research in this country because of its location on a plate boundary”

Katie is a PhD scholarship student at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) researching slow slip events using geodesy and seismology. Geodesy is the study of earth’s shape and size, and seismology is the study of earthquakes – putting the two together means Katie will use physics and maths to understand how the Hikurangi Subduction Zone is moving, and what that means for both slow slip earthquakes (also called ‘silent earthquakes’) and normal earthquakes.

Katie is currently looking at a series of SSEs (Slow Slip Events) between 2013 and 2016 in the Kāpiti and Manawatu regions, as well as some earthquakes nearby around the same time: the 2013 Cook Strait earthquake sequence (up to M6.6), and the 2014 Eketahuna earthquake (M6.2). She is interested in the relationship between the slow slip events (which occur so slowly humans cannot feel them) and the larger ‘normal’ earthquakes that were felt. She is using continuous GPS data collected by GeoNet, InSAR data and some seismological analyses.

Katie is also going on her first sea voyage onboard the R/V Tangaroa in October 2018 with both her PhD supervisors; Professor Martha Savage and Dr Laura Wallace. They will place instruments on the sea bed near Gisborne to measure earthquake activity and movement of the seafloor where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates meet. A major focus of Katie’s thesis will be to work with the data collected from these offshore instruments when they are retrieved in one to two years.