Sunday, September 9, 2012

GeoNet – Past, Present and Future

GeoNet needs your input …. But first some background:

Why do we need GeoNet?

New Zealanders live on the edge - astride the Pacific-Australia plate boundary, a part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. The level of earthquake hazard in New Zealand is similar to that of California and most communities have some exposure to this hazard. Additionally there is a significant volcanic hazard, both from the cone and caldera volcanoes of the central North Island and the volcanic field underlying its largest city, Auckland. Throughout New Zealand, landslides may be triggered by extreme weather or earthquakes, and the coastal areas are prone to tsunami, both from distant and local sources.

The case for GeoNet

In 2000 at the invitation of the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC), GNS Science proposed the establishment of GeoNet, a geological hazards monitoring system. GeoNet would facilitate the detection, data gathering and rapid response to New Zealand earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, tsunami and the slow deformation that precedes or follows large earthquakes. This followed more than five years of equipment trials, capability reviews and widening concern about national geophysical infrastructure, the purpose and renewal of which had been largely overlooked during a major restructuring of the Government science sector in the early 1990s.

EQC launched GeoNet in 2001 through its research and education programme. In partnership with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Department of Conservation, EQC’s long-term support and direction of GeoNet has facilitated the creation of world-class capabilities.  GeoNet now has sensor networks throughout New Zealand (over 550 sites), distributed data collection, processing and distribution capabilities and a programme of continual improvement. In 2009, EQC renewed its commitment to GeoNet for a further decade, with the strategic focus shifting from delivery of minimum geographic coverage, to more sophisticated management of data and information to meet evolving user needs.

The GeoNet Review

Every four years an international strategic review of GeoNet is conducted to ensure its performance and map future directions and the next one will take place in late October this year. Earlier reviews took place in 2004 and 2008.

Since the 2008 review, the earthquakes in Canterbury have provided an extreme test of all GeoNet systems.  It is therefore timely to consider how GeoNet might be enhanced or extended to maximise the value of investment in the system.  This contemplates wider use of the collected information beyond the core geological hazards area.  For example, the current networks could be adapted to support country-wide, high-accuracy real-time positioning applications for many different sectors.

GeoNet Needs Your Input ….

If you regularly use GeoNet data and information for your work or analysis, or have used GeoNet data in a major project, we want to hear about it.  For example, we are aware that many people have used GeoNet strong-motion data in the analysis of the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes and in published research papers, but the source of the data has not always been attributed, so it is hard for us to identify all related work without your help.

We are particularly keen to hear how GeoNet might be significantly improved in future. Please submit brief (maximum one page) summaries on either or both of these topics as soon as possible, not later than  21 September to experience and ideas will inform the planning and direction for the next few years, so please help make a difference. 

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