Geodiscovery / On Land / ICDP National / Alpine Fault Project

Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) - Alpine Fault

The Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) proposes to drill, sample, and monitor the Alpine Fault in the South Island to better understand fundamental processes of rock deformation and earthquakes.

The Alpine Fault in western South Island ruptures every 200-400 years in a magnitude ~7.9 earthquake, and is thought to have last ruptured in 1717 AD. The Alpine Fault is globally significant and similar in character to the San Andreas Fault in America or the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey. However, the Alpine Fault is unique in the fact that rapid uplift and mountain building has exhumed fault rocks from depth, and uplift continues to restrict earthquake activity to depths that are shallower than normal.

The DFDP project involves drilling, sampling, and monitoring the Alpine Fault at depth, to take advantage of excellent surface exposures and the relatively shallow depths of geological transitions, and hence to better understand fundamental processes of rock deformation, seismogenesis, and earthquake deformation. This video explains the aims and methods of the Alpine Fault Project.

The first phase of DFDP (DFDP-1) was completed in February 2011 with the successful construction of two boreholes intersecting the Alpine Fault at Gaunt Creek, South Westland. Further details regarding DFDP-1 and links to published results can be found here.

The second phase of the project, DFDP-2, is presently underway. This phase involves drilling at Whataroa River, which will intersect New Zealand's Alpine Fault at about 1 km depth. This is the first detailed investigation of a fault that is due to rupture in a large earthquake.

The project is led in New Zealand by Rupert Sutherland (GNS Science), John Townend (Victoria University of Wellington) and Virginia Toy (University of Otago). The project is collaborative with other New Zealand Universities and overseas institutions.

Regular blog updates can be found on Rupert's Blog.

More info

Media releases:

The latest press and media releases on the DFDP can be found here

Progress reports:
22 Oct 2014.pdf 319.90 kB
11 Oct 2014.pdf 568.49 kB
7 Oct 2014.pdf 289.11 kB