AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8] is an award-winning programme of scientific modelling, coordinated response planning and community engagement, designed to build resilience to the next Alpine Fault earthquake.
While we can’t predict when earthquakes will occur, scientific research indicates there is a 75% probability of an Alpine Fault earthquake occurring in the next 50 years, and that there is a 4 out of 5 chance that it will be a magnitude 8+ event. Geological evidence also shows that the Alpine Fault has a remarkably regular history of producing large earthquakes. Over the last 8000 years, the Alpine Fault has ruptured 27 times, on average that’s every 300 years. The last significant quake on the Alpine Fault was in 1717. The next severe earthquake on the Alpine Fault is likely to occur within the lifetime of most of us, or our children.
AF8 aims to share Alpine Fault hazard and impact science and preparedness information widely, through communication and engagement activities, to increase awareness, enable conversation and build societal preparedness to natural hazard events in Te Waipounamu our South Island.
Aotearoa New Zealand is aware of the Alpine Fault hazard risk and is enabled to take action to build resilience.
Emergency management and science working together to enable informed decision-making and increase Te Waipounamu our South Island’s readiness and response capability for the next Alpine Fault earthquake.
AF8 is best understood as a ‘boundary organisation’: an interdisciplinary partnership between research, policy and practice designed to support, build and coordinate readiness and response capability for the next great Alpine Fault earthquake, across the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. The programme was established and continues to be led by the 6 South Island Emergency Management (EM) Groups and key Alpine Fault hazard risk science partners Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (RNC) and QuakeCoRE: NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience.
Governance and leadership for the programme is provided by the AF8 Steering Group comprising the 6 South Island Group Managers, science leaders and a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) representative. Emergency Management Southland acts as the chair and the administrative authority for AF8. West Coast Emergency Management currently acts as the deputy chair.
While AF8 has no statutory role, nor will it take on the role of managing a response to an Alpine Fault earthquake – these responsibilities lie with the EM Groups, NEMA and their partner agencies – the programme provides a critical platform to enable planning and preparedness and has several key roles:
We are more resilient when we work together and AF8 collaborates closely with other organisations aimed at increasing New Zealand's resilience to natural hazard events, including: Toka Tū Ake EQC who co-fund the AF8 Roadshow: The Science Beneath Our Feet and other public education activities, and University of Canterbury, University of Otago, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University and GNS Science whose diverse research strengthens our understanding of the Alpine Fault and how we can be better prepared for natural hazard events.
AF8 is also a founding member of the Plate Boundary Network: a group of regionally branded natural hazard programmes actively involved in sharing natural hazard and impact science and supporting public education and engagement in Aotearoa New Zealand.
What do SALSA and the Alpine Fault have in common, you ask? Not too much, unless you fancy adding some salsa to your emergency supplies! In this case SALSA stands for “Southern Alps Long Skinny Array” and refers to a series of seismometers recently installed along the West Coast of the South Island – from Piopiotahi Milford Sound to Maruia – stretching 500km along the straight (skinny) part of the Alpine Fault.
A study led by Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington senior lecturer Dr Jamie Howarth indicates that there is a 75% probability of an Alpine Fault earthquake occurring in the next 50 years. Until now, it had been thought to be about 30%, based on evidence found in northern Fiordland...
Do you take your preparedness on holiday with you? It is impossible to predict exactly when and where an earthquake will occur, or what the outcomes will be, but the intent of this story is to promote preparedness in any eventuality. It’s great to be prepared at home for an earthquake, but it’s also possible that an earthquake will happen when we least expect it.