New Zealand’s Tectonically Active Southern Alps

Based in Gray, Tennessee, David Psimer is the CEO and owner of DP Builders, which focuses on multifamily housing projects. An avid traveler, David Psimer has visited scenic locales around the globe, ranging from Africa to New Zealand.

One of New Zealand’s most rugged areas is the Southern Alps, which feature the highest peaks in Australasia, including Mount Cook, which tops out at 12,316 feet. As reported in the New Zealand Herald, new research indicates that the Southern Alps are being pushed up by tectonic forces at a much faster rate than any other mountain chain worldwide. Popularized by the Lord of the Rings movies, the mountains are known for their extreme ruggedness, including 35-degree slopes. They also receive intensive rainfall, totaling 10 meters a year.

This combination of forces, along with active tectonic shifts, is rapidly changing the geography of the mountains. Measurements by University of Washington earth-science researchers found that mountaintop rock is turning to soil twice as fast as was believed possible. This combination of steepness and quick erosion is similar to the forces that may have formed the Himalayas.