New Zealand science 10 minutes ago Alpine Fault drilling: 'What we encountered was really quite extreme'

Scientists drilling on the Alpine Fault in the West Coast have discovered some of the most extreme underground conditions on the planet.
Alpine Fault

The drilling site at Whataroa, near Franz Josef glacier. Photo: Supplied

Researchers working on the Westland Deep Fault Drilling Project have drilled nearly 900 metres down into the alpine fault at Whataroa in Westland, looking at how the fault looks and sounds before an earthquake.

The research, lead by Victoria University, GNS and the University of Otago, was published today in the international journal Nature.

Victoria University researcher John Townend, one of the lead scientists on the project, told Nine to Noon 40°C temperatures would be normal at 800 metres below the surface, but the team recorded temperatures three times that - about 120°C.

Similar geothermal temperatures were normally found at depths greater than three kilometres.

"It's a very, very warm environment - it's comparable to what you might see in the Taupō volcanic zone for example... but that is a volcanic area, that has got magma sitting close to the earth's surface... and this is really totally non-volcanic," Dr Townend said.

Dr Townend said the heat was caused by the Alpine Fault was a completely different process to the volcanic areas.

"It's the faulting that is producing earthquakes intermittently, that jacks up the Southern Alps and that means it's bringing up this hot rock from depth."

Another of the lead scientists, Victoria University researcher Rupert Sutherland, told Nine to Noon no one on the team predicted it would be that hot so close to the surface.

"This geothermal activity may sound alarming but it is a wonderful scientific finding that could be commercially very significant for New Zealand."

Dr Townend said there could be commercial opportunities from the geothermal resource.

"The potential economic benefits of this remain to be fully explored ... but if you think about some of the big commercial benefits or economic activities on the West Coast - tourism, dairy - these are operations that could benefit from having a source of renewable, sustainable energy produced locally.

"So we would like to do further work to establish what the quality and extent ... of that resource is."

The Alpine Fault is known to rupture in magnitude 8 earthquakes approximately every 300 years.

The borehole that was drilled will be used for further research, including to monitor changes over the years.

Read more: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/331039/alpine-fault-drilling...

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"Dr Townend said there could be commercial opportunities from the geothermal resource."

Typical!! Bullshit excuse to drill holes in the Southern Alps for who knows what purpose exactly! Trust these drop-nuts about as far as I can kick them!

So few can see beyond the making of yet another dollar - regardless of the cost to our Mother Terra.

Oh how I wish the 3D to 5D shift would be true right now!

being a fault and tectonic plate boundary, one would expect high heat, as pressure/friction equals heat

Yes, as Sarah said in chat, there are hot springs all the way though the area. 

People simply do not understand how dangerous EPT (earth-penetrating tomography) is.

Bingo and NZ has been suffering it this last decade.

Yet again greed and hubris doom the fate of life on earth. Another nail in our coffin.

drilled nearly 900 metres down...to exploit resources ...always ...so done with these chumps having control over ANY lands or ecosystems ...

Yeah, I watched this on the telly news last night, and shook my head at the stupidity. In the same breath they said the Alpine Fault is ready to go at any moment, but hey, it's a great opportunity to put a powerplant there and tap the geothermal energy...HELLOOO!...big disaster in the making!

"Earthquake Imminent, do NOT put geothermal powerplant here". I think Saru is right, there's something else behind all this drilling.

Maybe they're trying to raise the Lost Continent Of Zealandia, get rid of some plebs and generate extra Real Estate at the same time?

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