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Scientists Find Surprise In NZ Underground After Quake

First Posted: May 18, 2017 05:00 AM EDT
Residents Survey Damage Following 7.5 Magnitude Earthquake In New Zealand
Huge slips, caused by the 7.5 earthquake, are seen blocking State Highway One north of Kaikoura.
(Photo : Mark Mitchell/Getty Images)

A new energy source was found in New Zealand by researchers after drilling deep into an earthquake fault. This new finding could potentially harness electricity and provide direct heating in NZ industries.

According to CBS News, scientists found water in the Alpine Fault to be much hotter than expected. This is surprising because geothermal energy is usually seen near areas with volcanic activity. Despite being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, there are no volcanoes found in this particular area, which stretched for hundreds of miles along the country's South Island.

Lead researcher Rupert Sutherland said that the study was supposed to collect rock cores and install monitoring equipment near the popular tourist destination of Franz Josef Glacier. Water temperatures were not among the things they were supposed to study, but the team of scientists admitted that they are excited about their unexpected findings nonetheless. This is because the findings could prove to be economically advantageous for the country.

Sutherland explained that the water at the fault could get up to 100 degrees Celsius at a depth of 2,100 feet (630 meters). While water usually gets hotter, the deeper into the Earth it gets. It usually does not get to this condtion until about 3 kilometers underground. However, as noted by Yahoo, Sutherland explained the discovery of hot water in the fault will not have any influence on predicting when new quakes could hit the country.

Commercial ventures that could make use of the newly found geothermal energy cannot begin immediately as well. Scientists will still have to determine the extent of the hot water found in the fault. They will also have to study how it could be used for, how easy it could be to extract and whether or not extraction could be done safely. The hot water found in the Alpine Strait, however, could potentially be used by the dairy industry as a heating source to dry milk: New Zealand's largest exports include milk powder.

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