Surface rupture morphology and paleoseismology of the western Hope Fault and characteristics of seismically displaced boulders in the Port Hills, South Island, New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Documenting earthquake-induced ground deformation is significant to assess the characteristics of past and contemporary earthquakes and provide insight into seismic hazard. This study uses airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and conducts multi-disciplinary field techniques to document the surface rupture morphology and evaluate the paleoseismicity and seismic hazard parameters of the Hurunui segment of the Hope Fault in the northern South Island of New Zealand. It also documents and evaluates seismically induced features and ground motion characteristics of the 2010 Darfield and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes in the Port Hills, south of Christchurch. These two studies are linked in that they investigate the near-field coseismic features of large (Mw ~7.1) earthquakes in New Zealand and produce data for evaluating seismic hazards of future earthquakes. In the northern South Island of New Zealand, the Australian-Pacific plate boundary is characterised by strike-slip deformation across the Marlborough Fault System (MFS). The ENE-striking Hope Fault (length: ~230 km) is the youngest and southernmost fault in the MFS, and the second fastest slipping fault in New Zealand. The Hope Fault is a major source of seismic hazard in New Zealand and has ruptured (in-part) historically in the Mw 7.1 1888 Amuri earthquake. In the west, the Hurunui segment of the Hope Fault is covered by beech forest. Hence, its seismic hazard parameters and paleoearthquake chronology were poorly constrained and it was unknown whether the 1888 earthquake ruptured this segment or not and if so, to what extent. Utilising LiDAR and field data, a 29 km-long section of the Hurunui segment of the Hope Fault is mapped. LiDAR-mapping clearly reveals the principal slip zone (PSZ) of the fault and a suite of previously unrecognised structures that form the fault deformation zone (FDZ). FDZ width measurements from 415 locations reveal a spatially-variable, active FDZ up to ~500 m wide with an average width of 200 m. Kinematic analysis of the fault structures shows that the Hurunui segment strikes between 070° and 075° and is optimally oriented for dextral strike-slip within the regional stress field. This implies that the wide FDZ observed is unlikely to result from large-scale fault mis-orientation with respect to regional stresses. The analysis of FDZ width indicates that it increases with increased hanging wall topography and increased topographic relief suggesting that along-strike topographic perturbations to fault geometry and stress states increase fault zone complexity and width. FDZ width also increases where the tips of adjacent PSZ strands locally vary in strike, and where the thickness of alluvial deposits overlying bedrock increases. LiDAR- and photogrammetrically-derived topographic mapping indicates that the boundary between the Hurunui and Hope River segments is characterised by a ~850-m-wide right stepover and a 9º-14° fault bend. Paleoseismic trenching at Hope Shelter site reveals that 6 earthquakes occurred at A.D. 1888, 1740-1840, 1479-1623, 819-1092, 439-551, and 373- 419. These rupture events have a mean recurrence interval of ~298 ± 88 yr and inter-event times ranging from 98 to 595 yrs. The variation in the inter-event times is explained by (1) coalescing rupture overlap from the adjacent Hope River segment on to the Hurunui segment at the study site, (2) temporal clustering of large earthquakes on the Hurunui segment, and/or (3) ‘missing’ rupture events. It appears that the first two options are more plausible to explain the earthquake chronologies and rupture behaviour on the Hurunui segment, given the detailed nature of the geologic and chronologic investigations. This study provides first evidence for coseismic multi-segment ruptures on the Hope Fault by identifying a rupture length of 44-70 km for the 1888 earthquake, which was not confined to the Hope River segment (primary source for the 1888 earthquake). LiDAR data is also used to identify and measure dextral displacements and scarp heights from the PSZ and structures within the FDZ along the Hurunui segment. Reconstruction of large dextrally-offset geomorphic features shows that the vertical component of slip accounts for only ~1% of the horizontal displacements and confirms that the fault is predominantly strike-slip. A strong correlation exists between the dextral displacements and elevations of geomorphic features suggesting the possibility of age correlation between the geomorphic features. A mean single event displacement (SED) of 3.6 ± 0.7 m is determined from interpretation of sets of dextral displacements of ≤ 25 m. Using the available surface age data and the cumulative dextral displacements from Matagouri Flat, McKenzie Fan, Macs Knob and Hope River sites, and the mean SED, a mean slip rate of 12.2 ± 2.4 mm/yr, and a mean recurrence interval of ~320 ± 120 yr, and a potential earthquake magnitude of Mw 7.2 are determined for the Hurunui segment. This study suggests that the fault slip rate has been constant over the last ~15000 yr. Strong ground motions from the 2010 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake displaced boulders and caused ground damage on some ridge crests in the Port Hills. However, the 2011 Christchurch earthquake neither displaced boulders nor caused ground damage at the same ridge crests. Documentation of locations (~400 m a.s.l.), lateral displacements (8-970 cm), displacement direction (250° ± 20°) of displaced boulders, in addition to their hosting socket geometries (< 1 cm to 50 cm depth), the orientation of the ridges (000°-015°) indicate that boulders have been displaced in the direction of instrumentally recorded transient peak ground horizontal displacements nearby and that the seismic waves have been amplified at the study sites. The co-existence of displaced and non-displaced boulders at proximal sites suggests small-scale ground motion variability and/or varying boulder-ground dynamic interactions relating to shallow phenomena such as variability in soil depth, bedrock fracture density and/or microtopography on the bedrock-soil interface. Shorter shaking duration of the 2011 Christchurch event, differing frequency contents and different source characteristics were all factors that may have contributed to generating circumstances less favourable to boulder displacement in this earthquake. Investigating seismically induced features, fault behaviour, site effects on the rupture behaviour, and site response to the seismic waves provides insights into fault rupture hazards.