The DEVORA Borehole Database: The Seed that Grew

In 2009, the size of Auckland’s volcanic cones was a great mystery. Covered by urban sprawl, the majority of the cones were known solely by their iconic hill shapes, but underneath lava and tephra from a single cone spread out in all directions for kilometres. To get an idea of the volcanos’ true extents, the DEVORA team attempted some basic 3D modelling. However, without borehole information (i.e. drilling into the ground), the models were just guesswork. So, the team decided to start collating drilling information. Over the course of 2 years, the team sourced >2000 datapoints across Auckland from consultants and Auckland Council and created an Access Database. Jill Kenny, a local geologist, used the database to the map out the Waitemata surface, and found some spectacular evidence for extinct faults across the Auckland region. In 2011, the DEVORA team posted the dataset onto PETLAB, GNS Science’s open-source platform for rock samples, and requested that local consultants provide more data. Unfortunately, drilling a borehole is an expensive process (costing ~$20,000-50,000 per hole!) and consultants were skeptical about the benefit of making precious data open source. The project was essentially put on hold, but over the next 4 years, the dataset would be used to:

  • Ground truth geophysics
  • Provide source information for Jill Kenny’s Fault model of Auckland
  • Provide supporting evidence of Gabor Keresturi’s magmatic volumes
  • And lots more!

In 2015, Watercare wanted to create a database of their geotechnical information to give them a starting point for a major project they were undertaking called Central Interceptor. They requested the DEVORA dataset be added to their database, forming the backbone of what would be called the Auckland Geotechnical Database (AGD). By 2016, the AGD had >6000 datapoints across Auckland.

In late 2016, the Ministry of Business and Innovation bought the AGD and combined with another geotechnical database from the Canterbury region that was built following the Christchurch earthquakes. Together, these two database seeded a new national platform, the New Zealand Geotechnical Database (NZGD). 

Today the NZGD has >130,000 datapoints (>40,000 in Auckland alone!) and is used by >6000 users from across the country. GNS Science currently uses the database as the basis for their 3D Urban Mapping Auckland project. Although we haven’t yet created full scale models of the individual Auckland Volcanic Field volcanoes, we’re closer to that goal than ever before!

Original Contributors to the DEVORA Borehole Database:

  • Auckland Council
  • NZ Transit Agency
  • GNS Science
  • OPUS International Ltd.
  • URS New Zealand Ltd.
  • Aurecon
  • Ihumatao Quarries Ltd.
  • Pattle Delamore Partners
  • University of Auckland Library


PETLAB User Guide Cover
PETLAB User Guide

The DEVORA Borehole Database: Status Update and Manual.

Publication Date: 23/07/2020
Howe Forum Poster 2016 Cover
Howe Forum Poster 2016

The New Zealand Geotechnical Database: A National Resource

Publication Date: 23/07/2020
Large Scale Faulting in the Auckland Region. Cover
Large Scale Faulting in the Auckland Region.

Kenny J, Lindsay J, & Howe T, 2011: Large Scale Faulting in the Auckland Region. IESE Technical Report 1-2011.04.

Publication Date: 05/07/2020
Post-Miocene faults in Auckland: insights from borehole and topographic analysis. Cover
Post-Miocene faults in Auckland: insights from borehole and topographic analysis.

Kenny JA, Lindsay JM, & Howe TM, 2012: Post-Miocene faults in Auckland: insights from borehole and topographic analysis. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, 55 (4)

Publication Date: 20/09/2012