Alison Ballance revisits the complex story of the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and talks to The Detail about a life in nature.
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Our Changing World

New stories for 1 April 2021

Complexity – six months of Kaikōura earthquake science

Six months after the destructive magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake hit North Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington, scientists were still busy collecting data and analysing what happened during this very complex seismic event.
Alison Ballance headed to GNS Science to find out what we’d learnt so far about the quake, which involved more than 21 faults, had the greatest ground acceleration ever measured in New Zealand, moved much of the country by at least 3 millimetres – and some of it by 12 metres - and even triggered movement on the Hikurangi subduction zone, which is the large boundary between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates.
This feature first aired in May 2017
Image representing how the Kaikoura earthquake spread out

Alison Ballance’s world is changing

Alison Ballance speaks with Sharon Brett-Kelly from The Detail podcast about hanging up her waterproof parka after recording more than a thousand Our Changing World stories.

A longer version of this interview will play on Good Friday, 2 April, on RNZ National 101FM.

And if you missed it over the summer, Alison talked with Emile Donovan for a Book Marks segment on Summer Times, talking about some of her favourite books, films and music.
Alison Ballance with a little penguin chick

Listen to the complete show

In this week's retrospective, Alison Ballance looks at the 'big ones': a big earthquake in Kaikōura in 2016 and the big science effort to understand it.

Voices from Antarctica

Alison Ballance finds out what it takes to live in and do science in Antarctica, in a podcast series recorded on the frozen continent in November 2019.

Voice of the Kākāpō

Voice of the Kākāpō - an audio adventure through the bumpy bumper 2019 breeding season of NZ's rare flightless parrot
Kakapo. Photo Andrew Digby DOC

An alphabetical jaunt around the periodic table of chemical elements.

Actinium - rare and radioactive
Aluminium - light and versatile
Americium - a radioactive domestic do-gooder
Antimony - takes lives, saves lives
Argon - every breath you take.
Arsenic - the well-known poison
Astatine - awfully rare

Barium - never found on its own
Berkelium and the synthetic heavyweights
Beryllium - sweet and precious, but deadly
Bismuth - an unusual heavy metal
Boron - made by cosmic rays, useful in the kitchen
Bromine - the colour purple and poison gas

Cadmium - colour and quantum dots
Caesium - the time-keeper
Calcium - strength and beauty
Carbon - life and times of the King of Elements
Cerium - combustible and confusing
Chlorine - good for health, bad for health
Chromium - colourful and shiny
Cobalt - goblin of the periodic table
Copper - essential, in moderation
Curium & Meitnerium - in honour of two pioneering women

Dysprosium - hard to get

Erbium - through rose-tinted glasses
Europium - putting the security in the Euro

Fluorine - the non-stick element
Francium - final naturally-occurring element to be discovered

Gadolinium - plays a key role in MRI scans
Gallium - mysterious case of the disappearing spoon
Germanium - important in the first transistors
Gold - a most desirable noble metal

Hafnium - helped land the first astronauts on the moon
Helium - rare on earth but universally abundant
Holmium - obscure, but an important surgical laser
Hydrogen - number 1 in the universe

Indium- Queen of the touchscreen
Iodine - a vital trace element
Iridium and the end of the dinosaurs
Iron - creator of the modern world

Krypton - its name means 'hidden' but it's a real thing

Lanthanum - curious case of a 'lost' element
Lead - sweet-tasting but deadly
Lithium - a mood-enhancing element
Lutetium – an obscure Parisian

Magnesium – loved by everyone and everything
Manganese – the ‘essential’ essential element
Mercury – mesmerising quicksilver
Molybdenum – a catalyst at bacterial to industrial scales

Neodymium – the secret behind supermagnets
Neon – the red of neon lights
Nickel – more than just a 5 cent coin
Niobium – useful at high and low temperatures
Nitrogen – a vital powerhouse

Osmium – heavyweight champion of the elements
Oxygen – the friendly element

Palladium – cleaning up your car’s exhaust
Phosphorus – P was discovered in pee
Platinum – another pricey precious metal
Plutonium – nuclear bombs & nuclear power
Polonium – few redeeming features
Potassium – a matter of life and death
Praseodymium – a long name but not many uses
Promethium – rare and unremarkable
Protactinium – a very dull chemical element

Radium – famous but not very useful
Radon – radioactive basement risk
Rhenium - has a number of claims to chemical fame
Rhodium – used in cars, drugs … & aftershave
Rubidium – expensive and not very useful
Ruthenium – a ‘sort’ of precious metal

Samarium – magnets for making & listening to music
Scandium – the scandal of the scandium cricket bat
Selenium – good reason to eat seafood & Brazil nuts
Silicon – a ubiquitous part of modern life
Silver – a popular noble metal
Sodium – a salt of the earth spectator
Strontium – from sensitive teeth toothpaste to nuclear fission
Sulfur – king of bad smells

Tantalum – a tantalising chemical element
Technetium – the first synthetic element
Tellurium – usually associated with gold
Terbium - turns up in old TVs & new Euro notes
Thallium - the poisoner's poison
Thorium - potential source of cleaner nuclear energy
Thulium - the most laborious of the lanthanoids
Tin – from whistles to organ pipes & anti-fouling paint
Titanium – light, strong & quite pretty
Tungsten – highest melting point of any metal

Uranium - first radioactive element to be discovered

Vanadium - Model T Fords, big batteries & sea squirts

Xenon - a stranger in search of strange particles

Ytterbium - yet another element named after Ytterby
Yttrium - here's that village Ytterby again

Zinc - more useful than you realise

Zirconium - shape-shifting time capsule
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