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Susan Ellis

Susan Ellis, Geodynamic Modeller, GNS Science

“Studying earth sciences lets me combine my passion for the outdoors with fun experiments to answer questions about natural hazards in New Zealand.”

Susan became interested in science at primary school. At first, she really wanted to be an astronaut! But later became fascinated with earth science - the study of the earth. 

Susan is trying to work out how New Zealand’s largest fault (the ‘subduction megathrust’) stores and releases stress. The ‘subduction megathrust’ is a large fault that separates the subducting Pacific Plate from the overlying rocks that make up the North Island. In Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne the ‘megathrust’ is mostly creeping slowly, while further south it's locked together and stores stress that is released in very large earthquakes.

Susan is trying to understand why there is this difference between north to south. By understanding how the megathrust works, we can improve estimates of the hazard from earthquakes and tsunami along the East Coast of the North Island.

The most exciting thing about science for her is the opportunity to work with some of the best minds on the planet on questions that are fundamental to human existence. She especially loves the special “aha!” moments when she discovers something new, or how something works. Science for her is a passion.

Susan is currently writing a science report and hopes to finish her research by February 2017.