The first picture shows how the low fault scarp blocks the stream, ponding the water and creating a swamp. This gradually fills up with carbon rich plant material (peat) so that eventually the surface of the swamp becomes level with the top of the scarp and the river flows straight across it.
At Hokuri Creek, by a quirk of fate, the river found a new outlet several hundred years ago, eroding downwards and exposing the sequence of peats and earthquake debris layers like pages in a book.This does mean however that the record of the two or three most recent earthquakes is not available here. You can see how scientists used a ladder to access good sampling points.
Amazingly, they were able to trace 24 earthquakes going back over the last 8000 years. Records of the two or three most recent 'quakes, missing from this sequence, have been found in a more recent study at the nearby John O'Groats swamp. Scientists were able to recover several sediment cores there that complete the sequence.
|EQ histories compiled by U.Cochran@GNS Science|
This map shows the location of Hokuri Creek in the southern section of the Alpine Fault. The earthquake record it provides tells us a history of large events in the southern and central section of the fault.
This project has been led by GNS Scientists Kelvin Berryman, Ursula Cochran and Kate Clark. The media release about it can be found here, or go to the GNS Science website learning pages here.