John Townend

Prof John Townend profile picture

Professor and Head of School School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Teaching in 2018

Research interests

Earthquakes and fault mechanics, Plate tectonics, Tectonophysics, Seismology, Structural Geology, Alpine Fault, Earthquakes.

My research focusses on earthquake mechanics, fault zone structure and hydrology, and the detection and analysis of small earthquakes. Most of my current work is concentrated on the Alpine Fault, the Hikurangi Subduction Zone, and geothermal systems in the Taupō Volcanic Zone, but I've previously worked on projects in California, Japan, and Iceland. I am a former president of the New Zealand Geophysical Society and currently serve as a Director of the Seismological Society of America and as a member of the Pohang (Korea) Earthquake Overseas Research Advisory Committee.

Current projects, most of which involve graduate students, include:

  • Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP), Alpine Fault
  • Earthquake hydrology in central and southern New Zealand
  • Earthquakes in New Caledonia (“CaNappe”)
  • Hydrogeology and thermal structure of the central Alpine Fault
  • InSAR analysis of deep slip in the Fiordland subduction zone
  • Microseismicity and structure of the Taupo Volcanic Zone
  • Microseismicity, tremor and low-frequency earthquakes beneath the central Southern Alps
  • Seismic wave propagation during the Kaikōura earthquake

Enquiries about undertaking PhD research under my supervision are welcome at any time. Students wishing to undertake MSc research in my group are recommended to contact Victoria International in the first instance to learn about enrolment requirements and the costs of studying in New Zealand.

Prof John Townend CV 2018pdf157KB


BSc (Hons, Geology) Otago (1996); DipHum (Distinction, Japanese) Massey (1998); PhD (Geophysics) Stanford (2003).


Publications from 1997-Now


Teaching in 2018