Earthquake source identification and characterisation for the Canterbury region, South Island, New Zealand

  • Jarg R. Pettinga University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Mark D. Yetton University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Russ J. Van Dissen GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8224-7573
  • Gaye Downes GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

Abstract

The Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand straddles a wide zone of active earth deformation associated with the oblique continent-continent collision between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates east of the Alpine fault. The associated ongoing crustal strain is documented by the shallow earthquake activity (at depths of <40 km) and surface deformation expressed by active faulting, folding and ongoing geodetic strain. The level of earth deformation activity (and consequent earthquake hazard) decreases from the northwest to the southeast across the region. Deeper-level subduction related earthquake events are confined to the northernmost parts of the region, beneath Marlborough.

To describe the geological setting and seismological activity in the region we have sub-divided the Canterbury region into eight domains that are defined on the basis of structural styles of deformation. These eight domains provide an appropriate geological and seismological context on which seismic hazard assessment can be based. A further, ninth source domain is defined to include the Alpine fault, but lies outside the region.

About 90 major active earthquake source faults within and surrounding the Canterbury region are characterised in terms of their type (sense of slip), geometry (fault dimensions and attitude) and activity (slip rates, single event displacements, recurrence intervals, and timing of last rupture). In the more active, northern part of the region strike-slip and oblique strike-slip faults predominate, and recurrence intervals range from 81 to >5,000 years. In the central and southern parts of the region oblique-reverse and reverse/thrust faults predominate, and recurrence intervals typically range from -2,500 to >20,000 years.

In this study we also review information on significant historical earthquakes that have impacted on the region (e,g. Christchurch earthquakes 1869 and 1870; North Canterbury 1888; Cheviot 1902; Motunau 1922; Buller 1929; Arthurs Pass 1929 and 1994; and others), and the record of instrumental seismicity. In addition, data from available paleoseismic studies within the region are included; and we also evaluate large potential earthquake sources outside the Canterbury region that are likely to produce significant shaking within the region. The most important of these is the Alpine fault, which we include as a separate source domain in this study.

The integrated geological and seismological data base presented in this paper provide the foundation for the probabilistic seismic hazard assessment for the Canterbury region, and this is presented in a following companion paper in this Bulletin (Stirling et al. this volume).

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Published
2001-12-31
How to Cite
Pettinga, J. R., Yetton, M. D., Van Dissen, R. J., & Downes, G. (2001). Earthquake source identification and characterisation for the Canterbury region, South Island, New Zealand . Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 34(4), 282-317. https://doi.org/10.5459/bnzsee.34.4.282-317
Section
Articles

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