Geology for Global Development

Geology for Global Development

Mapping the Kaikoura earthquake, New Zealand

Jscreen-shot-2016-11-30-at-17-08-09ack Williams is a PhD Student at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where he is studying the Alpine Fault. Jack was part of a team of experts that went into the field immediately following the Kaikoura earthquake to map the surface ruptures. Here he explains what they were up to and shares some photos of the damage.

The Mw 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake was an incredibly complex event involving several faults; and to unravel its movement we need accurate maps of the surface ruptures that slipped during the earthquake. A team from the University of Otago comprising myself, Mark Stirling, Kat Sauer and David Barrell (GNS Science) spent the past week mapping the Hundalee Fault, where helicopter reconnaissance flights had tipped us off about surface ruptures. This fault lies close to the epicentre of the Kaikoura event, but to the south of the Kekerengu Fault, across which ~10 m displacement has been widely reported.


In this photo of State Highway 1 (SH1), tensional cracks formed around the scarp from gravitational deformation induced by ground shaking in the earthquake


‘Crevasses’ in road

The observations that needed to be made included: measuring displacement across the fault, constraining the length of surface rupture along-strike of the Hundalee Fault, and whether we could identify previous events along the sections that ruptured on the 14th of November. ‘Surface rupture’ refers to places where the earthquake rupture broke through to the surface and caused offset across recognisable markers such as roads and fence posts.


Here the offset was a combination of uplift with the far side of the road uplifted 1 m, and dextral, meaning that the far side of the road moved horizontally to the right (as can be seen in the centre road markings). This type of movement with two components, is referred to as ‘oblique-slip’ and has been recognised across the Kaikoura Earthquake


Surface rupture crossing the Te Moto Moto Stream. These rapids likely weren’t here a few weeks ago!

Mark has been busy accurately mapping the fault trace using a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS, whilst Kat and myself have been getting to grips with the department Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, i.e. a drone) to capture birds-eye views and videos of the surface rupture. By taking overlapping photos, we hope to generate 3D photogrammetry models of the ruptures. We have also seen bedrock exposures of the Hundalee Fault across a creek that was uplifted ~1 m during the earthquake, with exceptional examples of gouges and cataclasites, including some cataclasite strands that did not appear to slip in this event.


A drone’s eye view of the surface rupture

These results will feed into the larger scale picture that is beginning to emerge from this earthquake, and will no doubt keep us busy for many years ahead. For example, why in some locations do we observe sinistral offset on a fault that predominantly has dextral offset, and, what is controlling the segmentation and jumps in the ruptures we have identified? From a personal point of view, it has been an eye opening experience into a side of earthquake geology I have never dealt with before, and also the importance of the science community engaging with those who have been affected with this event.


Landslide covers the rail tracks that run along the east coast of the South Island.


A bold warning from a local resident affected by the earthquake.

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the SDGs (Registration Open)

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the SDGs (Registration Open)

Registration for the next GfGD Annual Conference is now open!

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals

Friday 4th November 2016 (registration open from 9.45 am, for a 10.20 am start), hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London (Burlington House, Piccadilly, London).

Register here: (£5 students/unwaged, £13.09 employed)

In October 2015, GfGD organised the first major conference anywhere in the world on the role of geologists in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over 120 people came together to learn from and engage with geology and development experts from government, industry, academia and NGOs.

At our next annual conference, on Friday 4th November, we seek to build on these discussions, exploring ‘best practice’ and profiling ways by which delegates can make a personal contribution (in both short and long-term contexts) to the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs. Sessions will explore what we mean by ‘best practice’ in the context of development, ethics, sustainability, and there will be a dedicated session on the role of the mining sector in supporting the SDGs. We’ll be using a mixture of lectures, panel discussions, and more interactive group activities.

We’re delighted that Dr Tania Mathias MP, acting chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, has agreed to open the conference. Professor Iain Stewart (Director, Sustainable Earth Institute, Plymouth University) will give the keynote lecture on “Ethical Dimensions of Transdisciplinary Approaches in Seismic Risk Communication”.

We’re still confirming some speakers, and will update the conference webpage over the coming weeks:

35th International Geological Congress (Cape Town, South Africa)

35th International Geological Congress (Cape Town, South Africa)

The past few months have been busy with other work, and unfortunately I’ve not been able to post much on here. I’m hoping to get back to regular posts over the coming weeks, starting with a note on GfGD involvement in the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Cape Town later this month. The IGC takes place every four years, and is a flagship event of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

The 35th IGC, taking place in Cape Town (South Africa) from 27th August 2016 to 4th September 2016, is an exciting opportunity for geoscientists from around the world to meet, share research and exchange ideas. The event will include sessions on geoscience for society, geoscience in the economy and fundamental geoscience – recognising that there are many interactions between these three themes. This is only the third time in the history of the IGC that it has been held in Africa. In 1929, the event was held in Pretoria (South Africa) and in 1952 the event was held in Algeria. It’s an exciting opportunity for South Africa to profile it’s spectacular geology (including Table Mountain in Cape Town), as well as consider the role of geology in supporting development across sub-Saharan Africa.

Geology for Global Development will be playing an active role in the IGC, our first engagement in this international event. Through a successful application to the IGC geohost funding programme, I will be attending to represent GfGD, deliver a workshop, and contribute to sessions on geoethics, geoeducation and natural hazards.

  1. Workshop: Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Education and PracticeThis one-day workshop, run in collaboration with established mineral development expert Mike Katz, will explore ways to introduce socially responsible programs into university education (and other training programmes). It will also discuss skills for sustainability, and consider practical ways by which they can be nurtured.
  2. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals. This talk, part of a symposia on geoethics, will outline the importance of geoscientists contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Read the paper (in press in the IUGS journal Episodes) online here.
  3. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Building Good Foundations. This talk, part of a symposia on geoeducation, will share a paper recently published in the Geological Society of America Special Publication 520 on ‘Building Good Foundations: Equipping geoscientists with the skills to engage in international development’.
  4. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Multi-Hazard Interactions. This talk, part of a symposia on geohazards, will present PhD research on the interactions of natural hazards (read more in this open-access Reviews of Geophysics paper) while also highlighting the Young Scientists Platform on DRR to a geoscience audience.

We’ll aim to get as many resources from these events on our website as soon as possible after the IGC.

As a member of the Geological Society of London External Relations Committee I will also be a part of the UK delegation to the IUGS-IGC Council Meetings, examining the work of IUGS initiatives such as Resourcing Future Generations, and groups working on Geoscience Education, Training and Technology Transfer, and Global Geoscience Professionalism.

Where possible I’ll be tweeting from the event (@Geo_Dev and/or @JoelCGill), and sharing more about relevant sessions and events on the blog after I return. If any of our readers will also be attending, and would like to talk more about geology and international development, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or other relevant geo-topics then please do get in touch.


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