Back to top

Ursula Cochran

Ursula C

Dr Ursula Cochran collecting microfossils at Okupe Lagoon on Kapiti Island. Photographer: Kate Clark

“We hope our research will enable us to forecast the next 'megathrust' earthquake.”

When Ursula was a child she liked thinking about the earth and started collecting rocks and fossils, but it wasn’t until she went to university that she got inspired to be a geologist. Now she is part of the earthquake geology team at GNS Science. They want to know where, how often and how big past earthquakes were.

Ursula along with the team at GNS Science are trying to find physical evidence of past large-great earthquakes or ‘megathrust’ earthquakes that have happened on the Hikurangi subduction zone. The Hikurangi subduction zone lies just off the East Coast where the Pacific plate is moving down under the Australian plate. This is New Zealand’s largest fault.

She takes cores of old sediments from coastal lagoons and studies the changes in microfossils back through time. She does this to find evidence for the land moving vertically and the tsunami inundation that happens in large earthquakes. Radiocarbon dating helps her work out how old the past events are.

No one knows when earthquakes will occur but scientists try to predict how often different sized earthquakes happen. This research is ongoing, however a summary report is due out in mid-2017.

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