September 4, 2020

Team Profile:
Stephen Bannister

photo credit:
Stephen Bannister

1.     Why are you involved in geothermal / supercritical research?

I really enjoy challenging problems – trying to ‘image’ the deep heat source is like a complex puzzle, squeezing out just the right information from earthquake waves to ‘cat-scan’ the earth.

2.     What is the favourite part of your work?

I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed doing geophysical field measurements – out in the SouthernAlps, Antarctica, and around Okataina in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.  Analysis back in the office is also really enjoyable – especially when working with others in the team who have different specialties. I’m never ever bored.

3.     What publication are you most proud of?

Variations in crustal structure across the transition from West to East Antarctica’ (2003),  Geophysical Journal International,

What was the research finding?

Using seismic waves from distant earthquakes, we investigated the crustal structure beneath the Transantarctic Mountains, imaging the boundary between East and West Antarctica. We found spatial changes in the composition of the crust, as well as changes in the crustal thickness.

Why is it important?

Our findings provided constraints on the crustal root of the Transantarctic Mountains. Those findings have since been used by others for modelling the mountain uplift, and for understanding the nearby volcanism at Mt Erebus and MtMelbourne.

4.     What is your favourite photo of you working / doing research?

Where are you?

I’m in the basement beneath our offices at Avalon, getting ready to take our seismometers up to north of Taupo for recording micro-earthquakes.

What are you doing?  

Holding one of our seismometers – which detects seismic waves (once we bury it).  Over the last decade the seismometers have reduced a lot in size, down to the size of a coffee-cup.

Read more about Stephen's experience here.

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