EARTHSCI 714 : Earthquake Geology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Understanding why, how and where earthquakes occur from identification of their source parameters to consideration of their effects (ground shaking, fault rupture and crustal stress changes). Topics include seismic style, earthquake size and source parameters, recurrence interval, conditions for failure, and earthquakes as agents for crustal fluid redistribution.

Course Overview

The initial section of the course explores fundamental concepts which are then applied or explored in greater depth through application to the case study of the Alpine Fault, New Zealand. This course is delivered through a four day fieldtrip and weekly contact that range for more formal delivery of content to computer lab or discussion sessions where students and staff can interact as work on assessment tasks is progressed.

Course Requirements

Restriction: GEOLOGY 712, 714

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Comprehend the mechanisms of crustal stress release including the source conditions and resulting deformation. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  2. Be familiar with how earthquake data is routinely gathered and analysed and how the resulting data can be interpreted and communicated to the public. (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 6)
  3. Synthesise literature to test and support a scientific hypothesis. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Perform analytical modelling abstracting the real world, researching inputs and performing calculations. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Observe, dissect and discuss complex real world geological, geomorphic and societal relationships of the case study. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Recognise spatial and temporal patterns, identify the most effective modes to communicate these visually (maps, cross sections, graphs) and argue processes from the evidence (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Recognise appropriate field behaviours (health and safety; landowner interactions), ethics of working in the earthquake/hazard space with respect to public communication and respect for taonga (Pounamu). (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Apply the composite learning from the course to be able to sensibly discuss the (potential) hazard of fault rupture any different setting and conditions. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  9. Present written work professionally (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Coursework 15% Group Coursework
Coursework 7.5% Individual Coursework
Coursework 7.5% Group & Individual Coursework
Practical 10% Group & Individual Coursework
Reports 30% Individual Coursework
Research 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Key Topics

Fractures, Faults and Fluids

Fault rocks and Fault zones

The Basics of Earthquake seismology

Styles of stress release

Alpine Fault Architecture at Gaunt Creek: Summary unit descriptions and conceptual model of brittle fracture patterns

Patterns of Alpine Fault Seismicity

Learning Resources

Seminal to cutting edge peer reviewed literature will be used to support this course. 

Special Requirements

A four day field trip is undertaken during the mid semester break (14-17 April) that explores the setting of the 2010-11 Canterbury Earthquakes and crosses the Southern Alps to explore the case study Alpine Fault. While providing context to in class learning and the opportunity to anchor/enhance the final two case study related assessments in reality this fieldtrip remains optional with case study assessment tasks still able to be completed  and an alternative exercise in lieu of fieldtrip discussion participation grades available.  For the fieldtrip students are expected to independently arrive/depart at the Christchurch airport start/end point and manage their own food; land transportation and accommodation is included in the trip. Students are fully initiated into the University of Auckland health and safety process and expected to be actively engaged in managing their individual and group hazard and risk during the trip. Most stops are easily accessible from the vehicles. The Waiho Valley is a longer but easy walk. Access to one optional Alpine Fault exposure involves traversing more challenging terrain and good weather. We access one quarry. Sturdy boots and personal clothing and accessories for the potentially hot/cold/wet conditions are required.


Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 10 hours of lectures, 10 hours of tutorial time, an optional four day residential fieldtrip and 90 hours of reading, thinking about the content and working on the assignments which are directly tied to class, tutorial and fieldtrip activities.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 02:59 p.m.