Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (21.55 MB)

Terrestrial Heat Flow in New Zealand

Download (21.55 MB)
posted on 2021-11-08, 01:32 authored by Pandey, Om Prakash

In this regional heat flow study of New Zealand temperatures have been measured in available boreholes using a specially constructed thermistor probe, and existing temperature information has been incorporated from various sources including oil prospecting boreholes. Thermal conductivity has been measured in the laboratory on 581 samples. Newly determined values of heat flow are given for 105 locations; values for the South Island are here presented for the first time. Most of the heat flow values have been grouped in eight regions based on the level of heat flow. This classification can be related to the occurrence of certain surface manifestations and geophysical anomalies, and to regional plate tectonics. High heat flow in three regions is consistent with melting conditions being reached at depths between 35km and 45km. These are the Taranaki Region, the West Coast Region and the Great South Basin. The average regional heat flow for these regions varies from 86.4 mW/m2 to 110.7 mW/m2. Much lower heat flow is obtained in the Hikurangi and Marlborough-Canterbury Regions; these may possibly be interconnected. Elsewhere the heat flow is low to normal with isolated highs. The broad distribution of heat flow in the North Island is typical for an active subduction region. Radioactive heat generation has been measured on rock types from various localities, and large variations have been found. The heat flow - heat generation relationship has been studied for 42 sites. A linear relationship is found only in the Taranaki and Hikurangi Regions. Temperature calculations show large differences in the deep-seated temperature distribution beneath New Zealand, and this has also been reflected in the distribution of "reduced heat flow". Temperature and heat flow can be correlated with upper mantle inhomogeneity. The inferred variation of radioactive heat generation with depth has been studied for areas beneath the Western Canterbury Region. A mean heat generation of 1.56 plus-minus .07 muW/m3 has been found in a sequence which has been inferred to occur between 17km and 30km in depth under the region; this is very much higher than the usually adopted values for the lower crust. Normal heat flow observed in the Western Cook Strait Region, and the existence of good seismic wave transmission beneath the same region, can be attributed to crustal and lithospheric thickening. The relevance of present study to petroleum occurrences has been examined and it is found that in areas of proven hydrocarbon potential the heat flow is high.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Evison, F F