Laura Wallace, Geophysicist, GNS Science
“Since learning about plate tectonics at school I haven’t been able to look at a world map without trying to fit the plates back together.”
Laura was first drawn to Earth Sciences when her 4th grade teacher taught the class about plate tectonics. However that early interest lay dormant until she took a Geology class at University where she reignited her passion for trying to understand how the Earth works, and she has not stopped trying to figure it out since.
Laura is working as a geophysicist at GNS Science in Lower Hutt. Much of her scientific career has focused on investigating plate boundary processes at the Hikurangi subduction zone beneath the eastern North Island.
She uses GPS data collected at permanent survey marks around New Zealand (and elsewhere in the western Pacific) to track the movement of the Earth’s crust at tectonic plate boundaries. Her work using GPS data to track crustal movements in the North Island has produced new insights into where large subduction “megathrust” earthquakes are most likely to occur on the Hikurangi subduction plate boundary beneath the North Island.
Laura was the first person to discover the first slow slip event recorded on New Zealand’s GPS network, near Gisborne, in October of 2002!
Laura hopes her research will give us new insights into the relationship between slow slips and earthquakes and tsunami that have occurred off Gisborne in the past.