Research Spotlight: Measuring the rate of mountain building in New Zealand


  • Ernie Tretkoff


For the past 20 million years, the Southern Alps Mountains, on the South Island of New Zealand, have been growing as continental plates converge. Beavan et al. used 10 years of Global Positioning System data to measure the present-day rates of vertical movement across the Southern Alps. They found that the highest uplift rates, about 5 millimeters per year, occur near the crest of the mountains, about 20–30 kilometers southeast of the Alpine Fault, while the mountains are growing at a slower rate at lower elevations.