Abstract

The formation and uplift of Holocene marine terraces along a 160-km-long stretch of the Wairarapa coast in the southern Hikurangi subduction margin, North Island, New Zealand, are interpreted in terms of causative faults and associated large earthquakes during the past circa 7000 cal yr B.P. Distinctive stepped terrace morphology, the clustering of radiocarbon ages on each uplifted terrace, and the historic occurrence of coseismic uplift in other parts of eastern and southern North Island, support the contention that coastal uplift occurred suddenly and repeatedly during large-magnitude earthquakes. The rupture of five west-dipping reverse or reverse-oblique faults within the Australian plate, whose surface traces lie a short distance seaward of the present shoreline, are inferred to be responsible for coastal uplift. Individual structures range in length from 25 to 60 km. These lengths, together with uplift events in the range of 1–4 m, suggest earthquakes in the range of Mw 7–7.5. Approximately 20% of the radiocarbon ages are anomalously young for their elevations, but many have ages indistinguishable from accepted ages for terrace uplift. We infer that many of the anomalous ages are from samples deposited by tsunami that occurred in association with offshore fault rupture on adjacent sections of the coast.

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