LIDAR MAPPING OF EARTHQUAKE UPLIFTED PALEO-SHORELINES: TE KAUKAU POINT TO GLENDHU ROCKS, SOUTHERN WAIRARAPA COAST, NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
In January 2017, we participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the NSF SHIRE Project (Subduction at Hikurangi Integrated Research Experiment). We conducted reconnaissance fieldwork at multiple coastal sites to identify future targets for detailed study. Here, we report results of Airborne LiDAR mapping and correlation of uplifted paleo-shorelines. We use LiDAR data sourced from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and processed in ArcGIS, to generate shoreline maps. Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS surveying was conducted at one site (Glenburn Station) for calibration of LiDAR-derived shoreline elevations. Prior field mapping and radiocarbon dating (Berryman et al., 2011) are used to guide our LiDAR mapping efforts.
From Te Kaukau Point, northeast to Glendhu Rocks, multiple discontinuous strandlines are mapped and correlated along the coast. At one site (Pukemuri Stream), seven uplifted beach ridges are observed. Beach gravels and sands are exposed along stream banks overlying terrace treads cut on local bedrock. At other sites, the beach ridges converge or diverge, indicating overlap of more than one strandline. Along the landward side of the coastal lowland, the older shorelines are often obscured by landslide or alluvial fan deposits.
Tectonic uplift along the southern Hikurangi margin is the net result of a complex interaction between megathrust slip at depth and upper-plate faulting. Uplifted Holocene paleo-strandlines are interpreted as preserving single earthquake uplift events. Ongoing mapping, surveying, and age dating may help differentiate between very large margin-wide megathrust earthquakes (M8.0-9.0+) and smaller more localized upper-plate thrust events (M7.0-8.0). Both of these event types pose a significant seismic and tsunami hazard for New Zealand residents.