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New research led by Victoria University of Wellington geophysicist Associate Professor Simon Lamb and published in Nature Geoscience has revealed how understanding the events leading up to the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake may lead to a different approach to forecasting earthquakes.
"It has been commonly thought that the best way to predict future earthquakes is to analyse the earthquake histories of individual faults," says Associate Professor Lamb. "Data about past earthquakes are entered into modelling software and used to predict future earthquakes on each fault. This method assumes that each fault has its own in-built pacemaker or driving mechanism, giving rise to semi-regular earthquakes on the fault."
Associate - Professor - Lamb - Number - Issues
Associate Professor Lamb thinks there are a number of issues with this method.
"It is impractical to characterise every fault—there are just too many and some are not visible at the surface," he says.
Issue - Method - Analysis - Conjunction - Associate
But a more fundamental issue with this method was revealed by analysis done in conjunction with Associate Professor Richard Arnold of Victoria University of Wellington and Dr. James Moore at the Nanyang Technical University, Singapore. Associate Professor Lamb says the team's work showed that, in most cases, the earthquakes that happen on faults are triggered by earthquakes on faults elsewhere.
To come to this conclusion, the team looked at the slow movements of the landscape in the two decades prior to the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, measured very precisely with satellite mapping of ground motions.
Ground - Motions - Slippage - Fault - Plates
"We found that the measured ground motions were caused by slippage only on the single major fault separating the two tectonic plates that lie under New Zealand. This large fault, called the megathrust, underlies...
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