Summary of The Alpine Fault: when AF8 goes big! | NZ teachers, enrol in this LEARNZ virtual field trip

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Summary Page: The Alpine Fault: when AF8 goes big!
Term 4 starting 3 November 2020.

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NOTE: This field trip has been postponed to 3 November 2020. The Alpine Fault is one of Earth's most impressive geological features. It runs for around 600km up the spine of the South Island and is responsible for the magnificent chain of mountains we know as the Southern Alps. It's also capable of generating earthquakes - big ones. Each time the fault 'ruptures' it causes a quake around magnitude 8. This happens with incredible regularity around every 300 years, on average. The last major earthquake on the Alpine Fault was in 1717, so we're already a little overdue for one of the biggest earthquakes in New Zealand's modern history.

During the field trip follow the line of the Alpine Fault as it is crossed by roads, bridges, rivers, mountains, power lines, and phone lines from Arthur's Pass to Whataroa on the West Coast.

Explore the story of the Alpine Fault and find out how it will affect you when it inevitably ruptures again, which could be within our lifetimes.

Māori interpretations of the landscape will set the scene as geologists align this narrative with their understanding of the formation of the South Island and the Southern Alps.

Scientists are trying to understand how the Alpine Fault works and how a really big earthquake will affect land, infrastructure and people. Such an earthquake will be felt by everyone in Aotearoa so we need a coordinated response, and AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8] ( is helping us get better prepared. Enrol now.

In preparation for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:

  • New Zealand's tectonic plates
  • our natural hazards - earthquakes, tsunami, landslides, (volcanoes)
  • AF8, a coordinated programme to help New Zealand be better prepared for the next big Alpine Fault earthquake
  • Māori accounts of landscape formations in Te Wahipounamu
  • preparing for natural hazards
  • responses to natural hazards.

During the field trip you will:

  • follow tweets from Shelley, the LEARNZ field trip teacher
  • get to know scientists studying the Alpine Fault; AF8
  • gain an understanding of Māori perspectives on, and connections to, the South Island and the Southern Alps
  • learn about Maori creation stories alongside the latest findings by earthquake scientists
  • experience "The Shake Table"
  • find out about GeoNet, a partnership between EQC and GNS Science
  • see how GeoNet uses smart technology to monitor earthquakes and much more
  • follow the history of ruptures along the Alpine Fault
  • drive through the dramatic landscape of the Southern Alps
  • learn about AF8 and how an Alpine Fault rupture might impact you
  • find out more about earthquakes as a hazard
  • get to know what emergency managers do.

After the field trip, challenge yourself to:

  • work out which natural hazard is the greatest risk to you where you live, and what the impacts would be
  • make your home more resilient to natural hazards
  • find out the location of your nearest earthquake fault line
  • find out about the most recent earthquake near you
  • ask about Māori accounts of your local landscape
  • assess your own risk from a large earthquake such as AF8
  • install the GeoNet app on your mobile phone
  • get prepared for a natural hazard emergency
  • find out more about interesting careers in earth science and natural hazards.

The LEARNZ Team think that joining NZASE and staying connected through its email newsletter will help you become a better teacher of science.

Teacher comments

"Linked well into our unit on puia and maunga, with good information in the background pages and activities. Dipping into videos was useful. Fitted well with our unit, which is assessing Earth Systems at Level 4/5 of the NZC. It also allowed for participation and contribution for both the KCs and the NoS branch of Pūtaiao". Georgina Barrett from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whanau Tahi

"The videos and background material on the Alpine Fault were useful to the students in their studies of Achievement Standard 1.1 - extreme natural events". Michele Larnder from Westlake Girls' High School.

"As an individual teacher, I could never hope to organise and present learning opportunities to students as well as the Learnz team does. The natural hazards topic was very engaging for the students and the LEARNZ trip provided variety to my teaching programme and suited my e-learning class". John Brunton from Marshall Laing School.

"The children love these experiences. This was such a great follow up to the earlier Kaikoura earthquake field trip and built into our own study of Natural Disasters. It has added to our deep and thorough learning. Can't wait for the next one". Nicola Bennett from Wanaka Primary School.

Go to more comments about LEARNZ Natural Hazards field trips.

Where you will go

Starting in Christchurch you will take SH73 through the central South Island, crossing the Alpine Fault near Arthur's Pass and driving over the specially-engineered viaduct that is built to withstand large earthquakes and landslides. Follow the Alpine Fault south-west along the West Coast, where scientists and other experts will point out how the landscape has been marked by previous large earthquakes and what will be affected by the next big rupture. In 2017 we took you to the North Island for Life at the Boundary - investigating natural hazards so you may want to revisit the videos from that trip.

Learning Areas/Levels

Science: Planet Earth and Beyond Levels 2-8, Nature of Science Levels 2-8, Earth and Space Science Levels 7-8; Social Sciences: Geography Levels 6-8; Social Studies: Place and Environment Levels 2-5

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those pages read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are daily additions such as a diary, video clips, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, live tweets on twitter, and ambassador (mascot) page updates. Live web conferences on our enterprise-level Zoom platform scales to enable multiple teachers to manage students putting prepared and spontaneous questions to experts (recorded for replay). After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a school assembly or wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View some of over 1,000 teacher comments in testimonials. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences/web conferences comprise a unique collection of authentic, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

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Introductory video for this field trip: Watch, embed or share on Vimeo or click below to watch here.

New to LEARNZ? Go to Using LEARNZ.

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Shelley the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Shelley, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

alpine fault, citizenship, earth processes, earth science, earthquake research, earthquakes, faults, folding and faulting, fossils, future focus, geohazards, geology, hazards, landslides, planning for earthquakes, plate tectonics, science, scientific research, seismic monitoring, tectonic plates, tsunami