Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Evolution of a Normal Fault System, northern Graben, Taranaki Basin, New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-15, 22:30 authored by Cameron, Hamish

This study investigates the evolution (from initiation to inactivity) of a normal fault system in proximity to active petroleum systems within the Taranaki Basin, New Zealand. The aim of this research is to understand the evolution, interaction, and in some cases, death of normal faults in a region undergoing progressive regional extension. This research provides insight into the geometry, development, and displacement history of new and reactivated normal fault evolution through interpretation of industry standard seismic reflection data at high spatial and temporal resolution. Insight into normal fault evolution provides information on subsidence rates and potential hydrocarbon migration pathways.  Twelve time horizons between 1.2 and 35 Ma have been mapped throughout 1670 square kilometres of the Parihaka and Toro 3D seismic reflection surveys. Fault displacement analysis and backstripping have been used to determine the main phases of fault activity, fault growth patterns, and maximum Displacement/Length ratios. The timing, geometry, and displacement patterns for 110 normal faults with displacements >20 m have been interpreted and analysed using Paradigm SeisEarth and TrapTester 6 seismic interpretation and fault analysis software platforms.  Normal faults within the Parihaka and Toro 3D seismic surveys began developing at ˜11 Ma, with the largest faults accruing up to 1500 m of displacement in <10 Myr (mean throw displacement rate of 0.15mm/yr). Approximately 50% of the 110 mapped faults are associated with pre-existing normal faults and have typical cumulative displacements of ˜20 – 1000 m, with strike parallel lengths of <1 – 23 km. In contrast, new faults have typically greater displacements of 20 – 1400 m, and are generally longer with, with strike parallel lengths of ˜1 – 33 km.   New faults were the first faults within the system to become inactive when strain rates decreased from 0.06 – 0.03 between 3.6 and 3.0 Ma. Eight of the largest faults with > 1000 m cumulative displacement reach the seafloor and are potentially active at present day. An earthquake on one of these faults could be expected to produce MW 2.2 based on the maximum strike-parallel length of the fault plane.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Little, Tim; Seebeck, Hannu