Institute of Geophysics

The Institute of Geophysics coordinates research in geophysics, meteorology and tectonics within the Faculty of Science.

The Institute of Geophysics was established at Victoria University of Wellington in 1971 by the late Prof Frank Evison. Presently, there are joint projects between staff from SGEES and the Schools of Mathematics and Statistics (SMS), and Chemical and Physical Sciences (SCPS).


Dr James McGregor and students work in regional climate studies in India and South-East Asia and in the verification of precipitation forecasting from global weather models.

Geophysics & Tectonics cluster within SGEES


The Geophysics & Tectonics cluster within the Institute of Geophysics has been supported by a long-term government grant (since 1993) to carry out research in fundamental and applied geoscience. The team has an established record of securing competitive external funding, undertaking major geophysical projects, publishing the findings in high-impact journals, and communicating these findings to end-users.

The Geophysics & Tectonics cluster consists of five academics from SGEES and up to 20 graduate students at any one time working on projects in New Zealand and internationally. The group has particular expertise in earthquake seismology, exploration geophysics, and structural geology and tectonics.

In the last decade, the group has attracted more than $13m in external funding, published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and supervised more than 75 MSc and PhD students.

In collaboration with colleagues from GNS Science, other New Zealand universities, and overseas organisations, the group has spearheaded several of New Zealand’s largest geoscientific projects. These include:

  • South Island Geophysical Transect (SIGHT)
  • Seismic Array Hikurangi Experiment (SAHKE)
  • Paleoseismology of the Wairarapa and Wellington Faults
  • Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP), Alpine Fault
  • Southern Alps Microearthquake Borehole Array (SAMBA)
  • Tectonics of the Woodlark Rift, Papua New Guinea" basin
  • New methods of volcano monitoring around the world — “Ruamoko’s Rumbles”

Environmental physics, geomagnetism and palaeomagnetism research within SCPS

Dr Gillian Turner and Dr Malcom Ingham and their students work on topics in geomagnetism and palaeomagnetism, the physical properties of sea ice, and hydrogeophysics.

Geophysics research within SMSOR

Dr Richard Arnold is a statistician with a background in astrophysics, and collaborates with researchers in the Geophysics & Tectonics cluster on a variety of topics:

  • Bayesian methods of earthquake focal mechanism and tectonic stress estimation
  • Seismic network design
  • Error analysis in shear wave and seismic anisotropy measurements

Locations of seismographs in New Zealand

Active Network Map

Locations of seismographs in New Zealand as of April 2013. Geonet instruments shown by white triangles. Colored ones are all run by the Institute of Geophysics except the purple Wizard array that is run by NSF ( USA).