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Gisborne students visit research ship

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Two Gisborne Boys’ High School students, accompanied by their teacher, toured the research vessel JOIDES Resolution this past weekend before it embarked on its two-month research voyage.

The students were winners of the ‘Name a Deep Sea Observatory’ competition, which asked students to name the observatories that will be lowered 500m below the seafloor during the research voyage.

The students travelled to Timaru, where the ship was in port and were given a tour and shown the science equipment onboard by co-chief scientist Laura Wallace and educator Aliki Weststrate.

“The ship tour was a highlight of the trip with how high tech and huge it was, it was crazy to see it up close and go on board,” says Matthew Proffit, Year 12 student.

Matthew had selected the winning name ‘Te Matakite’, which means to see into the future. The sea observatories will be collecting information to learn more about the future earthquake and tsunami risk that the Hikurangi subduction zone may pose to the East Coast.

“I was also blown away with seeing the device that I named and knowing that I had a small part in the whole project that has taken so long to be put in place,” says Matthew.

These two observatories will measure and record how the Hikurangi subduction zone is behaving over the next decade.

This is a type of subduction zone where the Pacific plate ‘dives’ underneath the Australian Plate, and is our country’s most rapidly moving fault line.

The Hikurangi subduction zone can generate magnitude 8.0 (or larger) earthquakes that, in addition to widespread ground shaking, are also likely to produce tsunamis, coastal uplift and subsidence, landslides and liquefaction.

The competition was organised by GNS Science and East Coast LAB (Life at the Boundary) to raise awareness of the Hikurangi plate boundary.

Note: The JOIDES Resolution is a research vessel that drills into the ocean floor to collect and study core samples. Scientists use data from the JR to better understand climate change, geology and Earth’s history. It is a part of the International Ocean Discovery Program and is funded by the National Science Foundation. To read more about this expedition visit

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