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The BICEP project

The Borehole Instrument Centre for Eden Park (BICEP) is a permanent installation beneath the South Stand of Eden Park that provides a three-dimensional view of the earth movements beneath the stadium.

What is the BICEP Project?

A 383 metre deep vertical borehole was drilled beneath the stand in 2008, and sensors called geophones were installed at multiple depths to record the movement of the surrounding strata (layers of soil and rock). Data cables connected to these geophones extend to the ground surface where the data is recorded. Information from BICEP is used by researchers at the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and School of Environment at The University of Auckland.

The aim of BICEP is to develop a better understanding of the seismic and dynamic characteristics of Auckland, from deep in the strata up to the ground surface and into overlying structures. In addition, analysis of the rocks and soil removed during the drilling process will add to the picture of Auckland’s geologic history.

At the base of the borehole the noise of the surrounding city is reduced, meaning that small earthquakes and other seismic events which may not be able to be measured at the surface can be identified. Because recordings are taken from a range of depths, the geophones can track the movement of seismic waves from depth up to the ground surface. From above, movements and noise of Eden Park crowds and wind shaking the stadium can be tracked as waves that travel down into the ground.

As well as gaining a better understanding of Auckland’s seismic activity, the readings will also help inform future construction projects in the Auckland region which may be impacted by seismic movements.

Why is this research important?

Increased earthquake detection

It is predicted that many microearthquakes occur at depth, but surface readings may miss many of these seismic events due to background noise on the surface of the Earth. By situating a seismology centre below the surface, the BICEP project allows scientists and engineers to identify or measure these or other events and get a clearer picture of what is happening below the surface.

Groundbreaking science

As the first seismic centre placed under a large stadium, BICEP is able to measure and observe the effects of large numbers of people on the ground beneath them for the first time.

Geology

As the borehole is drilled, the rocks and minerals extracted were collected. These samples have been analysed and provide new information on the geological profile of the Auckland region.

Safer Building Construction

The movement of the earth can have huge impacts on the construction of buildings and other structures. By understanding how the Eden Park stadium responds to shaking, engineers will be better placed to design buildings that can withstand earthquakes.