CSEG Distinguished Lecture Tour

Post-earthquake Seismic Reflection Survey, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dr. Don Lawton
2013 CSEG Distinguished Lecturer

Don Lawton,
Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Mark Quigley and Jarg Pettinga
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand


On September 4, 2010, an earthquake struck the Christchurch region in New Zealand. The Mw 7.1 quake was centered about 40 km west of the city of Christchurch and caused significant damage but no loss of life. A key manifestation of the earthquake was a fault (Greendale Fault) that ruptured to the ground surface with a maximum dextral displacement of 5.1 m and a vertical displacement of 1.5 m, upthrown to the south. On February 22, 2011, a Mw 6.2 aftershock struck with a shallow hypocenter very close to Christchurch. This earthquake resulted in the loss of 182 lives and devastating damage (|$23B) to the city infrastructure. Since September, 2010, the region has experienced over 10,500 aftershocks, with 42 of these being greater than 5M.

Approximately 45 line-km of high-fold reflection seismic data were recorded in and around Christchurch following the February 22, 2011 aftershock. The goal of the seismic program was to map previously unknown shallow faults in and around the city for hazard assessment and to assist in the post-earthquake recovery effort. Reflection seismic data were collected along six 2D lines, two of which were within the Christchurch metropolitan area and four were in rural areas west of the city. Recording conditions were challenging within the city, but good quality images were obtained along all of the seismic lines, with events interpretable to a depth of approximately 1.5 km. Numerous faults were imaged along the lines and these were interpreted in two groups – older faults that showed clear offsets in deep (> 1 km) reflections and younger faults that showed displacement in shallow reflections. Some faults in the latter group were interpreted to be directly associated with hypocentres of the earthquake and aftershocks.

Fig. 01
Interpreted seismic section across the Greendale Fault, Canterbury Plains, New Zealand.


Don Lawton is a Professor of Geophysics and Chair in Exploration Geophysics in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. His research interests include acquisition, processing and interpretation of multicomponent seismic data, seismic anisotropy, integrated geophysical and geological studies in complex geological settings, and geological storage of CO2. He is an Associate Director of the Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology (CREWES) and is Theme Lead in Secure Carbon Storage for Carbon Management Canada, a Network of Centres of Excellence. In 2011 he led a team from the University of Calgary and CREWES to New Zealand for seismic imaging below the City of Christchurch following a devastating earthquake there. He is a past Editor of the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics, and was a recipient of a Meritorious Service Award from the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) in 1996 and the CSEG Medal in 2000. He is a member of SEG, AAPG, EAGE, CSEG, CSPG, ASEG, and APEGA.

Distinguished Lecture Tour Itinerary (Tentative)

Date Universities or Institutions Included City
Oct. 10
11 am or 3 pm
Geological Survey of Canada
GSC Atlantic Division
Dartmouth, NS
Oct. 12
Memorial University Earth Sciences
Govt of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dept. of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Division in attendance
St. John's, NL
Oct. 23
11:30 am
Dalhousie University
Earth Sciences
Halifax, NS
Oct. 24
12:30 pm
Acadia University
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wolfville, NS
Oct. 25
12:30 pm
University of New Brunswick
Earth Sciences
Fredericton, NB
Oct. 29
3:00 pm
Lakehead University
Thunder Bay, ON
Oct. 31
3:30 pm
McMaster University
Geography & Earth Sciences
Hamilton, ON
Nov. 2 University of Calgary
Calgary, AB
Nov. 9
3:15 pm
McGill University
Earth & Planetary Sciences
Montreal, QC
Nov. 19
9:30 am
Queen's University
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Kingston, ON
Nov. 20
11:30 am
Laurentian University
Earth Sciences
Sudbury, ON
Nov. 21
4:00 pm
University of Toronto
Physics (Geophysics); Geology
Toronto, ON
Nov. 22
11:30 am
University of Ottawa
Earth Sciences
Carleton University
Earth Sciences
Ottawa, ON
Nov. 22
3:00 pm
Geological Survey of Canada
Central and Northern Canada Branch
Landslides and Geotechnics; Seismology and Electromagnetism;
Geomapping for Energy
Ottawa, ON
Nov. 23
3:00 pm
Western University
Earth Sciences
London, ON
Nov. 29 CREWES Sponsors Meeting  
Jan. 17 University of Manitoba Winnipeg, MB
Jan. 18 University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK
Jan. 23
11:30 am
CSEG Technical Luncheon Calgary, AB
Jan. 28
7:00 pm
Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre
Council Chambers
Canmore, AB
Jan. 31 University of Alberta Edmonton, AB
Mar. 4 University of Houston Houston, Texas
Mar. 6
4:00 pm
University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC
Mar. 7
10:30 am
GSC Victoria Sidney, BC
Mar. 13 CSPG International Group Calgary, AB
Mar. 14
12:00 noon
Stanford University Palo Alto, California
Mar. 19
1:30 pm
Simon Fraser University Vancouver, BC
Mar. 20 University of Victoria Victoria, BC