Ripple Effect – Earthquake & Lakes: the tsunami you weren't expecting

Earthquakes & Lakes: The tsunami you weren’t expecting

Most of us are aware that New Zealand experiences earthquakes. What many people don’t realise though, is that the resultant ground shaking can impact lakes and other bodies of water – not only on the coast but at inland locations as well.

Visitors from far and wide are drawn to the turquoise waters of the Mackenzie Lakes – Tekapō, Pukaki and Ōhau – but what are the chances of those lakes posing a hazard in the event of a large earthquake on the Alpine Fault? And how can we anticipate the outcomes, and use this information to help us prepare for a possible event?

Over the course of this series, we’ll be finding out.

While this series focuses on the lakes of the Mackenzie District, the information shared is applicable to all lakes. If you are near a lake edge and feel a LONG or STRONG earthquake, GET GONE from the lakeshore.

Join us and the scientists involved in developing our understanding of such natural hazards. We’ll investigate the geology of the Mackenzie District, look at the work that has been done to understand the potential for a large Alpine Fault earthquake and it’s likely impacts on the Mackenzie District and its lakes, and discuss what we can all do to prepare for these types of natural hazard events, no matter where we live.

The series intends to bring to life the dynamic processes that have shaped – and continue to alter – the beautiful landscapes that we all enjoy, and the importance of doing our best to prepare for the unexpected.

AF8 Ripple Effect Earthquakes and Lakes Episode 1

Meet Sam, who will be leading the investigation into the earthquake and lake hazards in the Mackenzie District. Learn what the Alpine Fault is and gain an understanding of the geological environment of the South Island of New Zealand, focusing on the Mackenzie District.

AF8 Ripple Effect Earthquakes and Lakes Episode 2

In this episode we talk to Caroline Orchiston who describes the work AF8 has done to produce an earthquake scenario and it’s use to help us anticipate the possible outcomes of an earthquake on the Alpine Fault. We also talk to Kaley Crawford-Flett who explains the steps undertaken to minimise the risks of dam failure in a large earthquake.

AF8 Ripple Effect Earthquakes and Lakes Episode 3

In this episode we talk to Helen Jack and Joshu Mountjoy, who have worked to understand the geology of Lake Tekapō – both above and below lake level – to establish the possible risk of lake tsunami. 

AF8 Ripple Effect Earthquakes and Lakes Episode 4

In this episode we talk to Helen Jack about how we use the geological analysis of Lake Tekapō and the surrounding area to gain an understanding of what a possible tsunami might look like, and what we might anticipate happening as a result of a large earthquake.

AF8 Ripple Effect Earthquakes and Lakes Episode 5

In this episode Phill Mackay talks us through the work that has been done in the Mackenzie District to help locals and visitors prepare for a possible earthquake event, and what you can do to help keep yourself and your family safe.

Ripple Effect Get Ready How to Prepare

How to Prepare

For advice on how to prepare for earthquakes and tsunami, check out:

Get ready for earthquakes

Ripple Effect is produced by AF8

Creative direction, design and editing: Alice Lake-Hammond

Writing and narration: Sam Lord

Illustration: Bec McMaster (Sustainable Projects)

With many thanks to our contributors:

A. Prof. Caroline Orchiston (University of Otago), Dr. Kaley Crawford-Flett (University of Canterbury), Helen Jack (Environment Canterbury), Dr. Joshu Mountjoy (NIWA) and Phill Mackay (Mackenzie CDEM / Emergency Management Canterbury).

With thanks to