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    The Alpine Fault appears to produce large (magnitude 8) earthquakes approximately every 330 years and last ruptured in 1717 AD. This means that the fault is late in its average cycle of stress build-up between large earthquakes, and is expected to rupture at some point in coming decades. 

    DFDP is important to New Zealand because it will provide scientific data to inform analysis of the largest seismic hazard in South Island. Better models of earthquake shaking may be derived and down-hole monitoring equipment may inform future warning systems or time-varying hazard estimates.

    A Safety Review was conducted in April 2014 to review plans for DFDP-2 and the effects, if any, that drilling might have on the likelihood of an Alpine Fault earthquake. The committee consisted of experts in seismology, geology, science management, and drilling engineering from New Zealand, the United States, and Italy:

    • Dr Bill Ellsworth, Research Scientist, United States Geological Survey (Chair)
    • Prof Rick Sibson, Professor Emeritus of Geology, University of Otago (Deputy Chair)
    • Dr Kelvin Berryman, Director, Natural Hazards Research Platform, GNS Science
    • Mr Lindsay Fooks, Director, Geothermal Associates NZ Ltd.
    • Dr Geoff Hicks, Chief Scientist, Department of Conservation
    • Dr Warner Marzocchi, Chief Scientist, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (via email/teleconference)
    • Dr Richard Smith, Manager (Science and Education), Earthquake Commission
    • Prof Eric van Oort, Professor of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas (via email/teleconference)

     

    The terms of the reference of the Safety Review were to determine whether planned technical operations will significantly affect Alpine Fault earthquake hazard; to assess whether the overall plan adequately addresses this safety issue; and to try and improve the plan in consultation with the Principal Investigators. In particular, the Safety Review Committee considered whether appropriate steps have been taken to:

    1. understand the issue;
    2. engineer the experiment such that potential hazards are identified and mitigated;
    3. monitor effects of drilling and identify anomalous activity, including earthquakes; and
    4. be able to respond to anomalous activity with sensible engineering measures.

     

    The Safety Review Committee's report and a brief summary of actions being taken to address points raised during the review can be accessed via the links below.

    Safety Review Committee report

    Response to the Committee's report

    A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) has been prepared in response to the Safety Review Committee's report and is available here.

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