Lake Tekapo chosen to probe risk to tsunamis on New Zealand lakes

Scientists are investigating whether New Zealanders need to be worried about the threat of tsunami on some of our biggest lakes.

NIWA and GNS Science are working to determine whether a lake tsunami could cause damage on our shores. Source: 1 NEWS

While there have been incidents overseas, the chances here have never been looked at despite our high risk of earthquakes.

"This has happened before in places overseas so we know it can happen but we really know nothing about what the potential is in New Zealand," marine geologist Joshu Mountjoy says.

A joint project with Niwa and GNS Science is studying whether a massive wave at Lake Tekapo could be large enough to damage the shoreline.

Lake Tekapo has been chosen for the study because it's nestled at the foot of the Southern Alps and earthquakes in the area are not uncommon.

"There's active tectonic faults that run through the lake so there could be earthquakes generated quite close to here we also have the alpine fault which is not very far away at all," says Mr Mountjoy.

Civil Defence says research is important in developing its understanding of risks and planning for any possible disruption or harm.

"We're taking all that information and we're working really closely with the local emergency management people and civil defence officers to incorporate that information into response plans," Environment Canterbury natural hazards analyst Helen Jack says.

The study will be completed in two years.