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NZ oceans explored for tsunami risk

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/05/2016

Scientists from various groups will use the core samples to better understand the earthquake and tsunami risks in the region. © Reuters Scientists from various groups will use the core samples to better understand the earthquake and tsunami risks in the region. The dangers of tsunamis and earthquakes around New Zealand may soon become more clear as the world's largest geoscience group looks to invest $80 million into drilling the region's unexplored seafloor for information.

The International Ocean Discovery Programme has just approved five projects to drill the oceans around New Zealand and Antarctica from 2017 to analyse the make-up of the sea floor.

Scientists from various groups will use the core samples to better understand the earthquake and tsunami risks in the region.

They also hope the results from the $80m investigation will give insights into how marine life will be affected by environmental changes.

University of Waikato earth sciences lecturer Beth Fox said the announcement was "absolutely a big deal".

"These projects are looking to answer questions such as how our active tectonic and volcanic systems work and how Antarctica responds to changes in global climate," Dr Fox said.

"With earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and climate change all presenting significant hazards to New Zealand, these questions are relevant to every New Zealander."

During the exploration, starting in August 2017, the science vessel JOIDES Resolution - which will conduct the drilling - will be based out of New Zealand.

Researchers from GNS Science, NIWA and New Zealand universities will likely join the expeditions.

Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre director Professor Timothy Naish said it was a chance for New Zealand to learn about its still-unexplored "back yard".

"The benefits will range from an improved knowledge of West Antarctic ice sheet stability and its influence on global sea-level, new insights into how earthquakes occur below the North Island, to the discovery of extreme life and minerals form around deep sea volcanoes.

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