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Rights: The Deep Fault Drilling Project Published 29 February 2012, Updated 10 August 2017 Size: 470 KB Referencing Hub media

New Zealand scientists are taking part in a multinational project to drill deep into the Alpine Fault. This active fault stretches for 500 km along the west coast of the South Island. By looking at pieces of rock (core samples) from deep within the fault, scientists hope to learn more about how and why earthquakes happen.

Studying core samples with microscopes is an important part of the drilling project. In this interactive, you can trace the journey of core samples from the Alpine Fault to the University of Otago. You’ll see how they are prepared and studied under the microscope, and you’ll learn how something as small as a microscopic grain of rock can shed light on something as big as the Alpine Fault.

Acknowledgement:
Image courtesy of The Deep Fault Drilling Project – a multinational collaboration lead by GNS Science, the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington with researchers from the University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury, Liverpool University and the University of Bremen in Germany. Scientists from the United States and Canada are also participating.