Australian Plate Meets the Pacific Plate (03:12)
Wellington has five major fault lines. Dr. John Watt meets Dr. Hamish Campbell at Te Papa to learn about New Zealand's seismic subduction activity. The largest earthquakes occur at subduction interfaces; Wellington's last major earthquake was in 1855. See images of a 1931 earthquake that devastated Napier and Hastings.
Earthquake Seismology (02:24)
Dr. John Townsend explains slow earthquakes (a.k.a. slow slips). Observing slow slips may be the key to predicting sudden, violent earthquakes. Dr. John Watt uses a chocolate bar to demonstrate brittle and ductile movement. Townsend uses GPS data to identify slow slips.
Tsunami Danger (02:52)
Dr. Graham Leonard is trying to ensure that New Zealand does not suffer the devastating effects of a tsunami. He uses a tsunami model to demonstrate water movement. Locked subduction interfaces that suddenly release cause the world's biggest tsunamis.
Protecting Wellington (01:31)
Dr. Graham Leonard creates an evacuation plan in case of a tsunami; his maps are color coded to indicate evacuation areas. Leonard wants to prepare Wellington residents to respond to an earthquake and tsunami.
Volcanic Hazard and Risk (02:30)
A subduction interface sends magma toward the Earth's surface through a chamber. In Auckland, magma rises straight through the Earth's crust. The city lies in an intraplate hot spot with 50 volcanoes in a volcanic field. Dr. Jan Lindsay discusses the possibility and consequences of a future eruption.
Auckland's Violent Past (01:50)
Dr. Phil Shane and Dr. Jan Lindsay explain the layers in a sample of Auckland' sediment core. The several layers of volcanic eruption evidence show that Auckland's volcanic activity is erratic. Lindsay discusses using the seismic technique to predict earthquakes.
Subterranean Vibrations (03:14)
Dr. Liam Wotherspoon discusses a way to detect volcanic eruption. Beneath Eden Park's Sky Tower lies a 383 meter bore hole that contains seismographs. Wotherspoon explains how a test bore hole seismometer works and produces a 3D image of an earthquake signal.
Minimizing Volcanic Ash Damage (04:08)
Ash is the volcanic hazard most likely to affect communities during an eruption. Volcanic ash clouds can travel hundreds of miles; particles can be harder than steel and are often coated with acidic salts. Dr. Tom Wilson demonstrates the electrical properties of volcanic ash in a flash-over.
Credits: What Is Science Doing to Predict Natural Disasters? Ever Wondered? (Series 1) (00:31)
Credits: What Is Science Doing to Predict Natural Disasters? Ever Wondered? (Series 1)
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