I have along standing interest in the hard rock crystalline foundations of the Te Riu-a-Maui/Zealandia continent. These foundations include the greywacke terranes of the North Island in which many geothermal fields are rooted. It’s great to be able to apply my regional knowledge to geothermal research which will help meet future energy needs.
It’s particularly satisfying to change old concepts and ideas by generating new data. Collection of rocks and follow-up laboratory analysis has always been part of my work. The geothermal programme is no exception; we obtain greywacke and schist samples from the Ruapehu to Bay of Plenty area and date and study them to map out the 3D geometry of major crustal faults.
Mortimer N,Campbell HJ, Tulloch AJ, King PR, Stagpoole VM, Wood RA, Rattenbury MS,Sutherland R, Adams CJ, Collot J, Seton M. 2017. Zealandia: Earth's hidden continent. GSA Today, 27: 28-35. https://doi.org/10.1130/GSATG321A.1
What was the research finding?
This is the ‘go to’ research paper that makes the scientific case that Earth has an eighth continent: Zealandia. It is, by a wide margin, the Geological Society ofAmerica’s most-downloaded paper ever. In the two weeks following its publication, global media articles on Zealandia are estimated to have reached a potential worldwide audience of 900 million.
Why is it important?
Zealandia puts all New Zealand geology and geophysics in a wider and more accurate context: a submerged continent cut by an active plate boundary. A world map showing Zealandia is more informative than one that doesn't.
Where are you?
On the Australian Research Ship R/V Southern Surveyor in 2012, above the submarineFairway Ridge near New Caledonia
What are you doing?
Identifying newly collected rocks, dredged from the seabed. These rocks helped build the case for the Zealandia continent in the 2017 paper.
Read more about Nick's experience here.