BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of international researchers made a hot discovery within a seismic fault in New Zealand. A hole drilled at Whataroa on the Alpine Fault of the South Island revealed an extremely hot fault-line water. The environment surprised the scientists with the extreme conditions it displayed.
Unusually high temperature for such a depth
The research team, conducted by the geology professor Rupert Sutherland, discovered surprisingly hot groundwater 630 meters deep within Whataroa. This seismic fault lies near to the Franz Josef Glacier, one of the main tourist attractions in the area.
The water reached 212 degrees Fahrenheit, temperature usually registered only at depths of 3 kilometers. At the surface, water vaporizes at such temperatures. However, the extreme pressure kept this groundwater in a liquid state.
The area around the Alpine Fault is sustained economically by dairy farming, and an entire industry developed from it. This is why this discovery is important, as researchers think that the fault might provide energy for the developing industry. It would add to the already existing facilities in the North Island, which produce geothermal electricity in the volcanic areas.
Earthquake forecast potential
Besides being a potential energy source, the fault-line water might help with earthquake forecasts. Such high underground pressures usually lead to a disruption and weakening of the faults. Therefore, researchers fear this might lead to a strong earthquake of magnitude 8 in the following decades.
Such earthquakes are quite frequent in New Zealand, and usually occur once every 300 years. The last earthquake of magnitude 8 took place in 1717, so the prospect of another strong fault disruption is near. Also, the Alpine Fault lies in a critical position.
An earthquake with such a high magnitude is a horrid scenario. New Zealand has been shaken by several other quakes lately. None of them reached so high a magnitude, and still made numerous victims and caused serious damage. Therefore, an accurate prediction of the next calamity can help the authorities take all the measures against it.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons