Scientists at GNS Science and Auckland University have been given $1.22 million by the Marsden Fund for earthquake research in the South Island.
Four drills will be sunk into the alpine fault, the deepest going down 1.5km.
Probes will measure factors like stress on the fault and underground heat.
The Marsden Fund allocates about $60 million each year. It is funded by the Government and administered by the Royal Society