New Zealand Primary Site

The New Zealand primary site exhibits a wide range of fault slip and volcanic phenomena with significant variation along-strike in a small, compact setting. Excellent exhumed exposures of arc crust and accretionary prism, a zone of active subduction initiation, and significant new government investments in onshore and offshore scientific infrastructure make New Zealand an exciting site for GeoPRISMS research. From north to south, the New Zealand primary site includes the Puysegur Ridge (subduction initiation), Puysegur Trench (subduction), Fiordland (exhumed arc crust), Hikurangi Trench (subduction), the Taupo Volcanic Zone (arc and rift volcanism), the southern Kermadec Arc (subduction), and the Havre Trough (back-arc rifting).

From the Science Plan

Click on each theme below to see current projects and some remarks on that theme from the GeoPRISMS Implementation Plan.

Research questionsPlanning

Examples of outstanding research questions for the New Zealand primary site include:

  • What are the geological, geochemical, and geophysical responses to subduction initiation and early arc evolution and how to they affect subduction zone formation?
  • What controls the along-strike transition from a locked subduction interface (southern Hikurangi) to a largely creeping interface (northern Hikurangi)? What controls the spatial limits of the seismogenic zone and the location and character of slow slip events?
  • How to Quaternary eustacy, structural deformation, and climate change influence sediment dispersal and sequence architecture in forearc basins?
  • What are the magma transport pathways through the crust, and respective contributions of subducted sediments and crustal assimilation along- and across-strike of the arc?
  • How do rifting and spreading, and the spatial and temporal variation of magmatism, relate to the nature of slab-derived fluid-to-melt and the rheology of the mantle wedge?

Further information about these topics, a summary of existing datasets and infrastructure investments in New Zealand, and critical research efforts for GeoPRISMS studies can be found in Section 2.4 of the GeoPRISMS Implementation Plan.

An implementation planning workshop was held for the New Zealand Primary Site in Wellington, New Zealand on 14-16 April, at Te Papa Museum. There were 170 participants from ten different countries, demonstrating the excellent opportunities for international collaboration at this primary site. The large number of participants and high-quality white papers submitted (38 white papers – more than for any of the other GeoPRISMS primary site workshops) reflected the high level of enthusiasm among both the US and international subduction zone community for future studies in New Zealand. The workshop consisted of a number of keynote and invited talks, and break-out sessions to discuss and prioritize the main scientific objectives and most suitable GeoPRISMS goals. Four geographic regions emerged as focus areas where GeoPRISMS topics could be well addressed:

  • The Puysegur Trench
  • The Hikurangi Subduction Margin
  • The Taupo Volcanic Zone
  • The Kermadec Arc

The New Zealand IP has been updated based on the outcomes of the workshop and is available for download.

Meetings and Workshops

GeoPRISMS MeetingsOther Meetings and Workshops




  • SCD Implementation Workshop | Bastrop, TX, January 5-7, 2011

Articles, News, and Research

New Zealand