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Kiwi kids embark on virtual field trip to learn about Alpine Fault

Students from around New Zealand will soon embark on a unique field trip to discover the incredible powers which created the South Island landscape and still pose a threat to our communities.

And they will be all be able to do this from the safety of their classrooms, thanks to ‘The Alpine Fault: when AF8 goes big!’ virtual field trip created by LEARNZ with the support of the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

“This field trip offers an amazing opportunity for teachers to offer their students first-hand accounts from scientists working on all aspects of the Alpine Fault,” says LEARNZ programme product owner Fionna Wright.

The field trip will take the students across Kā Tiritiri o te Moana/the Southern Alps in the week starting August 25, travelling from Christchurch across the Otira Viaduct to Whataroa and Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere/Franz Josef, which sits atop the Alpine Fault.

The virtual classes will be hosted by LEARNZ field trip teacher Shelley Hersey who will Zoom call into the classrooms, enabling students to listen and ask questions of experts along the journey.

“Students will learn about the science and history of the tectonic plates that make up the Alpine Fault and have a look at the Deep Drilling project that is taking place to better understand when the next big Alpine Fault earthquake may strike the South Island,” says Fionna Wright.

The Alpine Fault is one of Earth's most impressive geological features. It runs for 600km up the spine of the South Island and around every 300 years it ruptures - causing a quake around magnitude 8.

“The last big quake was in 1717, so we're already a little overdue for one of the biggest earthquakes in New Zealand's modern history,” says Dr Jo Horrocks, Chief Resilience and Research Officer at EQC.

“We know it could happen any time, so EQC wants to encourage people to be prepared and a large part of the virtual field trip is focused on what students, schools and communities can do to be more resilient,” says Dr Horrocks.

The field trip will visit a school close to the Alpine Fault to see how they have prepared themselves for natural hazards, and students will also learn practical measures to increase the preparedness of buildings to ensure personal safety.

AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8] is lending their expertise to the field trip. AF8 is a programme of scientific modelling, coordinated response planning and community engagement designed to build a collective resilience to the next Alpine Fault earthquake, across the South Island.

 “The Virtual Field Trip is an amazing resource for primary and secondary school teachers and fits perfectly into the New Zealand curriculum. Last year, over 3,000 students came along so we invite every school in New Zealand to join us on the road.” 

Enrolments for The Alpine Fault: when AF8 goes big! virtual field trip here:

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