Discovery of the Alpine Fault
- Date: Wednesday, 12 April, 2017
5.30pm to 6.45pm
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
- Contact Details:
Space is limited, so book your spot by emailing email@example.com
A geographic discovery and debate
2017 is the 300th anniversary of the last major rupture on the 850-km long Alpine Fault. Forming the western edge of the Southern Alps, it is clearly visible from space. Although the Alpine Fault seems so obvious today, but it was not recognised until 1941 by two young geologists, Harold Wellman and Dick Willett.
Over the next 30 years there were vigorous debates about the nature of the Alpine Fault, the timing of movement on it, and whether future ruptures would cause earthquakes. With the development of plate tectonics in the 1970s, the Alpine Fault was recognised as part of the boundary between Pacific and Australian plates. The evolving understanding of the Alpine Fault provides a case study of how changes in scientific concepts occur - generally not by single 'Eureka' moments, but by the testing and refinement of alternative ideas.
This talk relates to several of the maps in the current Unfolding the Map exhibition.
About the speaker
Simon Nathan is a geologist and science historian who has worked in many parts of New Zealand. For several years he was Science Editor of Te Ara, the online encyclopedia of New Zealand, and wrote a biography of Harold Wellman who has closely associated with the discovery and understanding of the Alpine Fault.