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Rapid analysis of offshore earthquakes and tsunami in the Southwest Pacific (Research Aim 1.2)

Aotearoa is a high risk area for tsunamis generated in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Taitokerau is especially vulnerable to tsunami due to its orientation relative to seismically active submarine areas. This research aim is working to collect more data than previously available and to develop and refine new data processing methods so that emergency managers have more complete data, faster about if a tsunami is approaching Aotearoa's shores.


To do this, we are installing new seismometers in Taitokerau. This will decrease the distance between where we are getting data and allow us to pinpoint earthquake source locations more precisely. The new instruments will also be complemented by additional instrumentation being installed by other countries around the southwest Pacific Ocean. 


New Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoys are also being installed off the Aotearoa coast. Together, these data sources open up new types of data processing. When paired together, our ability to forecast tsunamis not only improves substantially in terms of how accurate our predictions are (e.g., how high the waves may be) but also in terms of how quickly we can predict tsunamis. This means that emergency managers will have longer to make more informed decisions and enact them.

dart network.png

Map of DART buoys in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Each DART buoy is indicated by a red triangle and a letter. The colourful rings around each DART buoy indicate how long it will take for that DART buoy to detect a tsunami from a location in the ring. The red lines indicate plate boundaries, which are the most likely locations for earthquakes on the sea floor. Almost all of the plate boundaries on the map fall within a yellow, green, or blue zone, meaning a DART buoy will detect a tsunami from an earthquake along the plate boundaries within 20 minutes of it being generated.


Team members involved:

Anna Kaiser (GNS Science)

Bill Fry (GNS Science)

Ken Gledhill (GNS Science)

William Power (GNS Science)

Emily Warren-Smith (GNS Science)

Chris van Houtte (GNS Science)

Xiaoming Wang (GNS Science)

Christof Mueller (GNS Science)

Laura Wallace (GNS Science)

Sam Taylor-Offord (GeoNet)

Tim McDougall (GeoNet)

Timothy Stahl (University of Canterbury)

Calum Chamberlain (Victoria University of Wellington)

Willem Kleijn (Victoria University of Wellington)

Paul Teal (Victoria University of Wellington)
Mark Stirling (University of Otago)

Emily Lane (NIWA)

Adrienne Moseley (Geoscience Australia)

Trevor Allen (Geoscience Australia)

Phil Cummins (Australian National University)

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