PhD position available with the Tephra Seismites team

We are looking for a doctoral student to join our team, for a project on characterising and using liquefied lacustrine tephra layers to evaluate paleoearthquakes and seismic hazard in the Hamilton lowlands.

The PhD project will involve (1) lake coring; (2) interpreting CT and micro-CT images of liquefaction of tephra layers in lake cores; (3) developing methods to characterise the liquefied tephra layers (tephra seismites) quantitatively in 3D (geometric morphometrics); (4) analysing spatial patterns of the seismites; and (5) evaluating paleoseismicity and hazards in and beyond Hamilton.

More information is available through the University of Waikato website here.

Checking out Te Puninga Fault

Vicki Moon looking for evidence of liquefaction and faulting in the trench

From the week beginning 15 February, 2021, we have been taking part in a joint project investigating the newly discovered Te Puninga Fault near Morrinsville. This fault is the closest to the Hamilton Basin and so we are trying to work out if activity on the Te Puninga Fault may have impacted on Hamilton Basin, where we suggest the liquefaction of lacustrine tephra layers (tephra seismites) has been caused largely by activity on one or more of the local Hamilton Basin faults. By studying the Te Puninga Fault we plan to test this idea.


The work on the Te Puninga Fault is jointly funded by an EQC project entitled “Paleoseismology of the newly discovered Te Puninga Fault, Hauraki Plains”, and our Marsden Fund project associated with paleoseismicity of the Hamilton lowlands.


Directed by palaeoseismologist Dr Pilar Villamor (GNS Science), three large trenches were opened on two different strands of the fault scarp that runs essentially north-south (roughly parallel to SH 27) a few kilometres to the northeast of Morrinsville. Others involved in the trenching work included Drs Kelvin Berryman and Kate Clark (GNS Science) along with Waikato-based geoscientists David Lowe, Vicki Moon, Alan Hogg, and Joshua Hughes. Joshua has joined the tephra seismites team to work on the Te Puninga Fault as part of his University of Waikato graduate studies (2021-22).

View of trench dug at right angles to fault scarp of newly discovered Te Puninga Fault in Hauraki Basin. Mt Te Aroha is in the distant background. Photo: D.J. Lowe

The fault and trenching made national news coverage including the entire front page of the Waikato Times (19 Feb 2021) and TV news items including Joshua speaking on One News. See the following links for more: Stuff news;
this video, and this article in Newshub.

Finding fault: researchers team up to assess Hamilton’s seismic risk and lake health

Last month, the Tephra Seismites group teamed up with our colleagues at Lakes380, who are also studying lake sediments, to collect the first of our core samples. More details about our joint fieldwork are available on the full press release here.

Research team members at Rotoroa (Hamilton) Lake before coring its sediments. L-R: Dr Tehnuka Ilanko (University of Waikato), Dr Marcus Vandergoes (GNS Science), Chris Morcom, Jordanka Chaneva, and Dr Vicki Moon (all University of Waikato)