Auckland Ascent Rates – How Much Warning Time Will We Have? (July 2018)
Dr. Marco Brenna, a researcher with Otago University, recently published a paper on how diffusion in olivine crystals suggests that magma ascent in the Auckland Volcanic Field may happen quite rapidly. While we knew from geochemical evidence, models, and related studies of other volcanic areas that magma ascent was likely to be fast (days to weeks) in Auckland, this study is the first to use Auckland samples to estimate how quickly magma rises from the mantle to the surface. The article received some press:
- Auckland could get just five days’ warning of eruption ( NZ Herald, 27/8/2018)
- Auckland could have just five days’ warning before a volcanic eruption ( Stuff, 27/7/2018 )
Deadly Base Surge Research Commences (July 2018)
Dr Stuart Mead (Massey) is researching the deadliest threat associated with Auckland eruptions: volcanic base surges, and this caused a media stir. Surges are destructive clouds of hot gas and ash that form when water and magma mix. We see evidence of surges at ~80% of Auckland volcanoes. Stuart’s research is supported by the Earthquake Commission in a separate but affiliated project. The EQC is a great supporter of DEVORA and a lot of other research projects focused on understanding the threats posed by the Auckland Volcanic Field. We look forward to hearing about Stuart’s findings!
- Earthquake Commission funds new research to better understand Auckland’s volcanic surges (Stuff, 24/07/18)
- Study into Auckland eruption reveals impact to city (NZ Herald, 24/07/18)
- EQC funds research on Auckland volcanic surges (Scoop, 24/07/18)
- The biggest risk to life if Auckland erupts (Southgate Observer, 19/8/2018)
Press Release: The current eruption of Kilauea: Could it happen in Auckland? (May 2018)
The current eruption of Kīlauea volcano on Hawai‘i has provided some spectacular footage of cracks opening in roads, fountains of glowing lava, and billowing clouds of gas – and has people wondering whether such activity could occur in Auckland. We thought this would be a great opportunity to explain how this latest eruption on Hawai‘i compares with what we might expect in Auckland if our volcanic field reactivates.
This is because the type of magma erupting from Kīlauea is the same as the type of magma that erupts from Auckland volcanoes. It is a basalt, which is a dark-coloured magma whose low silica content means it has a low viscosity and therefore forms lava fountains and flows when it reaches the surface.
In addition to lava fountains and lava flows from fissures, the Kīlauea eruption has been associated with earthquakes, ground deformation (uplift and deflation), large amounts of gases (mostly SO2), ground cracking, and magma flowing underground. All of these phenomena could be expected in a future Auckland eruption; indeed, we see evidence for subsurface transportation of lava through lava tubes all over Auckland in the form of lava caves (some great examples can be seen on Rangitoto).
The Kīlauea eruption is in fact an eerie analogue for how such an eruption could impact Auckland’s daily life. We are seeing steaming cracks opening in roads; lava blocking roads; lava burning houses, vegetation and power poles; people developing health problems from breathing in gases; power and water outages; and evacuation of some areas.
A better understanding of how a future eruption might affect Auckland, including how many people might need to be evacuated and how hazards such as lava flows and ash might impact on our lifelines (e.g. roads, water and electricity), is one of the key aims of the ongoing Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland (DEVORA) research programme.
As it happens, one of DEVORA’s researchers, PhD student Sophia Tsang, has been studying Kīlauea’s past lava flows to learn lessons for Auckland. She is avidly following the current Kīlauea eruption, and says, “it is humbling to witness the reality of how devastating lava flows can be, and it makes me determined to learn more about lava flows so Auckland and other places can be better prepared for a future eruption”.
GeoNet closely monitors the Auckland Volcanic Field via a network of seismometers. GeoNet and DEVORA scientists work closely with Auckland Emergency Management to ensure that hazard management and evacuation plans are informed by up to date monitoring, research and experiences.
Auckland Emergency Management’s Principal Science Advisor Dr Angela Doherty says that the current situation in Hawaii is going to provide some important lessons for future planning. “While the first Aucklanders may have seen the most recent eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field at Rangitoto 550 years ago, our population and city has grown greatly since then, so we are watching events in Hawai’i very closely. Scientists from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory and our counterparts at the County of Hawai’i Civil Defense are advising residents that they may face weeks or even months of disruption. Observations we can take from how things unfold in Hawai’i over this period will provide valuable information for our future volcanic contingency plans.”
Geological background: Kīlauea vs the Auckland Volcanic Field
Kīlauea is what we call a shield volcano, a large volcano with gentle slopes formed from steady accumulation of thin but extensive sheets of lava over long periods of time. The closest we have to the type of activity on Hawai‘i is Rangitoto, which is sometimes referred to as a miniature shield volcano. In contrast, the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) comprises at least 53 individual small volcanoes that have each erupted for a short period of time, with long gaps in between the formation of each volcano. The time between eruptions has been highly variable in the past, and it is unlikely that someone will experience an eruption in Auckland within their lifetime.
Another difference is that whilst the current activity on Kīlauea is mainly effusive, meaning gentle extrusion of lava spatter and lava flows, the presence of abundant groundwater and seawater in Auckland means that in Auckland we can also get violent explosive eruptions when magma encounters water. Past eruptions in the AVF have typically started out with an explosive phase that generates fast-moving clouds of ash, gases and debris away from the vent and excavates a crater in the ground. Some eruptions stopped after this phase (e.g. those that formed Orakei Basin and Onepoto Domain), but others continued in a gentler, more effusive manner after the magma stopped interacting with water, leading to the development of scoria cones (e.g. Mt. Eden, Mt Mangere) and lava flows (e.g. at Meola Reef and on Rangitoto).
The eruption on Kilauea was preceded by several days of warning signals including earthquakes, something we would also expect prior to an eruption in Auckland.
The DEVORA research programme
DEtermining VOlcanic Risk in Auckland (DEVORA) is a multi-agency, transdisciplinary collaborative research programme led by volcanologists at the University of Auckland and GNS Science and funded by the New Zealand Earthquake Commission and Auckland Council. The project, now in its tenth year, aims to improve understanding of volcanic hazard and risk in Auckland. The findings have the potential to improve business decision-making and risk management, as well as make Auckland a safer place. Visit our webpage, or follow us on Facebook!
For more information contact Jan Lindsay email@example.com
Click here to view the press release on the Geonet webpage or download the pdf from the link below:
Related Press Articles and TV Coverage:
- Why Hawaii’s eruption matters for volcanic Auckland (NZHerald, 9/5/2018)
- Hawaii eruption an ‘eerie analogue’ for Auckland volcano risk, scientists say (Stuff, 8/5/2018)
- NZ scientists keeping close watch on Hawaii’s volcanic eruption (NewsHub, 7/5/2018)
- Could a volcanic eruption like Kilauea happen in Auckland? (RadioNZ, 11/5/2018)
- Auckland volcanic eruption could look similar to Hawaii’s Mt Kilauea, scientists say (TVNZ, 12/5/2018)
Simulating a Possible Eruption in Auckland (September 2017)
This week, University of Auckland students participated in a simulation of an Auckland Volcanic Field eruption. After a day in the field, they took on the challenge of guiding the city through several months of preparation and the eruption itself. Learn more by listening to Prof Kathy Campbell’s interview with Radio New Zealand here.
Will your roof withstand flying volcanic rocks?(July 2017)
UC researchers are exploring the consequences of flying volcanic rocks (“ballistics”) on building materials. This is truly “groundbreaking” research that garnered both TV and radio coverage in June/July. Check out the links below to find out more:
- Will your roof withstand flying volcanic rocks?(Radio NZ, 15/6/2017)
- How safe is your house if a volcano erupts nearby? (TVNZ 30/7/2017)
AVF Eruption History Decoded (July 2017)
Fourty-eight of Auckland’s 53 volcanic centres can now be placed in order. To do this, researchers devised new and improved techniques to figure out the eruptive history of the Auckland Volcanic Field, with some surprising findings. Their findings were summarized in two papers, which both garnered media attention. The two articles can be found here and here. To read the press articles or listen to the radio interview see the links below:
- Scientists reveal Auckland’s explosive history (NZ Herald 18/7/2017)
- Decoding Auckland’s Volcanic Past (Radio NZ 18/7/2017)
- Auckland’s volcanic eruptions surprisingly recent, study reveals (Newshub 18/7/2017)
- Auckland volcanoes temperamental, unpredictable: studies (XinhuaNet 18/7/2017)
- Rate of Auckland volcanic eruptions increasing, scientists say (Stuff 18/7/2017)
- Science Deadline: Auckland’s unpredictable volcanoes (Business Scoop 21/7/2017)
- Studies reveal Auckland Volcanic Field’s past (Radio Live 23/7/2017)
DEVORA Publication is Most Downloaded JVGR Article in 2016 (May 2017)
“Volcanic Hazard Impacts to Critical Infrastructure: A Review”, a DEVORA article by Grant Wilson, has been named as JVGR’s most downloaded article for 2016. It’s been downloaded ~10,500 since it’s publication in 2014. That’s quite an achievement and we’re really excited for Grant and the Canterbury team! For more information, click here.
Shortland Street’s Explosive 25th Anniversary Episode (May 2017)
For the 25th anniversary episode of Shortland Street, the cast of characters had to contend with a volcanic eruption. GNS science was consulted to ensure that the scenario was as realistic as possible. For more information on how the TV show handled the volcanology, check out the Stuff article here.
DEVORA Featured on The Panel with Jim Mora (May 2017)
On May 26th, The Panel with Jim Mora did a short segment on whether or not there will always be warning prior to an AVF eruption. Natalia Deligne explained that GNS monitors the Auckland Volcanic Field through Geonet and that we can expect anywhere from a few hours to few weeks of detectable unrest. See the link below to check out the segment:
- Volcanic hazard and risk for Auckland unknown (RadioNZ 26/5/2017)
The Impacts of an AVF Eruption (April 2017)
Daniel Blake’s recent paper on the impact of an AVF eruption to the Auckland transport network has caused quite a stir. The paper, titled “Investigating the consequences of urban volcanism using a scenario approach II: Insights into transportation network damage and functionality”, is the second part of the AVF Scenario Series and follow’s Natalia Deligne’s earlier paper. To read some of the recent news articles about the work, check out the links below:
- Auckland eruption scenario: 435,000 displaced (NZ Herald 11/4/2017)
- Volcanic eruption could cripple Auckland’s transport network: scientists ( Stuff 11/4/2017)
DEVORA Outreach in the News! (March 2017)
On April 2, the DEVORA outreach team participated in the MOTAT Science Street fair. Click here to read the MOTAT Press Release about the event.
Investigating the Consequences of an AVF Eruption Using Scenarios (March 2017)
Natalia Deligne’s paper “Investigating the consequences of urban volcanism using a scenario approach I: Development and application of a hypothetical eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand” was just published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. The paper details what might happen in Auckland if the city was impacted by a volcanic eruption in the Mangere Bridge area. Specifically, it focuses on the potential impacts and outcomes of such activity on eletricity service provision throughout the region. As expected, the paper generated a lot of media interest. Check out the links below to read some of the recent articles or listen to the radio interviews:
- Auckland’s next big eruption likely to come from a volcano that doesn’t yet exist, scientists say (Stuff 3/3/2017)
- Scientists plot the destruction that a volcanic eruption in Auckland could cause (NZ Herald 5/3/2017)
- Volcanic eruption: How would Auckland cope if one blew? (NewsHub 5/3/2017)
- What would happen if an Auckland volcano erupted? (RadioNZ & MSN 6/3/2017)
- Scientists investigate Auckland eruption scenarios (RadioNZ Interview 6/3/2017)
- A Volcano Erupts In Auckland…. In Theory (Forbes Online 6/3/2017)
- Cartoons: AVF Scenario (NZ Herald Cartoons 7/3/2017)
- Impact of a Volcanic Eruption on Auckland with Natalia Deligne (WTV Interview 7/3/2017)
- Impact of an Eruption in Auckland (Seven Days Segment [@21 min] 10/3/2017)
Cities on Volcano 9: Let’s Talk with Scientists! (February 2017)
In November 2016, several DEVORA volcanologists attended Cities on Volcanoes, an annual conference focused on the impact of volcanic activity on urban environments around the globe. Emma Hunt from Auckland CDEM also attended the conference, which focused heavily on communicating science to practitioners and communities. To learn more, please read the CDEM E-bulletin here.
How Auckland volcanoes Could Erupt (December 2016)
Based on Gabor Kerestzuri’s recent work, journalists from the NZ Herald have created an interactive map which highlights the linkages between Auckland’s subsurface geology and the type of expected future eruption in any given area of the city. Herald Insights is a new interactive, data driven forum where “stories are told through text, interactive graphics and maps”. This is the first DEVORA work to be presented as an ‘Insight’. Click on the link below to read the article and see the map:
- How Auckland Volcanoes Could Erupt (Herald Insights 2/12/16)
Probing the History of New Zealand’s Orakei Maar (September 2016)
Over 2 weeks in February 2016, DEVORA team members and their collaborators drilled two ~100 m-long cores into the sediments at the bottom of Auckland’s Orakei Basin, a volcanic explosion crater-turned-lake basin. We were able to recover the collected lake bed sediments all the way down to the original volcanic deposits from Orakei Basin’s eruption. Here is a great article describing a little more about what we are doing with the cores, and why we wanted to drill:
- Probing the history of New Zealand’s Orakei Maar (Eos, 97, 20/09/2016)
Developing volcanic hazard and risk models for the AVF (July 2016)
Natalia Deligne has finished her post-doc looking at the short term impacts of a volcanic eruption occurring within Auckland. Her work shows the importance of the RiskScape tool and of creating detailed scenarios.
- Developing Volcanic Hazard and Risk Model for AVF (Rebuild Christchurch, 30/06/2016)
Rangitoto: Not What We Expected (March 2016)
The results of the Rangitoto Drilling Project indicate the history of the volcano may be far more complex than scientists originally thought. New ages obtained from the 150m core suggest that the island may be ~6000 years old rather than just 500. Phil Shane, the project leader, suspects that Rangitoto may acutally be a cluster of several smaller volcanoes rather than one larger edifice.
- Volcano Hiding Explosive Secret (NZ Herald, 28/03/2016).
Orakei Drilling Project: Delving Deep into History (February 2016)
As part of grant to reconstruct Auckland’s climate history, scientists from the University of Auckland, Victoria University, and GNS drilled >100 m into the center of Orakei Basin. Samples retrieved from the drilling not only provide a detailed record of climate fluctuations but also of the volcanic history of the region. The core, which potentially spans >140,000 years, will help map out in unprecedented detail past AVF eruptions.
- Delving Deep into History (NZ Herald, 18/02/2016).
- Geologist hunt for clues about Auckland Volcanic activity (Geonet, 18/02/2016).
What happens if Auckland’s volcanoes erupt? (January 2016)
Dr Jenni Hopkins was interviewed about her latest research by Radio New Zealand. In the interview, she discusses how researchers study AVF volcanoes and gives an overview of the upcoming Orakei drilling project. Click here to listen to the interview.
Predicting the Impact of an Auckland Eruption (December 2015)
Recent DEVORA PhD graduate, Dr Jenni Hopkins, has had her research findings profiled in several news articles. Her PhD focused on correlating ash found in lake cores around Auckland to source volcanoes to better understand the order of eruptions in Auckland, and the impact that they had (e.g. how far ash/deposits from each volcano traveled, and their thicknesses). Her research is instrumental in creating an age order for the volcanoes to better understand the evolution of the field, and to figure out how ash and other volcanic deposits may affect Auckland during future eruptions (for example, how far did ash/deposits travel from each volcano? How thick are they ‘x’ kilometers away from the vent?).
- Predicting the Impact of an Auckland Eruption (VUW, 14/12/2015, *original press release)
- A Better Understanding of Auckland Volcanoes (Sciblogs News, 14/12/2015)
- Predicting the Impact of an Auckland Eruption (Voxy, 14/12/2015)
- Predicting the Impact of an Auckland Eruption (Wellington Scoop, 14/12/2015)
- Volcanic eruptions in Auckland: What’s the Risk? (New Zealand Herald, 15/12/2015) (One note: Though we could experience an eruption in Auckland at any time, none of our research findings imply that it will definitely happen within the next few hundred years, as the article suggests. We have no way of knowing that–we can only just learn as much about the volcanic field as we can, and be prepared!)
Economic Impacts of an Auckland Eruption Studied (May 2015)
DEVORA/IIOF researchers Shane Cronin and Garry McDonald’s economic modelling indicate that the disturbance an eruption would cause in certain areas of Auckland would lead to a greater impact on the economy than in other locations. See the NZ Herald article here:
- Huge Blow if Eruption Hit Factory Zones (NZ Herald, 11/05/2015)
What Areas of Auckland are Susceptible to Explosive Eruptive Activity? (May 2015)
New research by former DEVORA/IIOF PhD Gabor Kereszturi highlights a method that can be used to create an ‘explosive eruption susceptibility’ map for Auckland. The preliminary map, used as an example of what the conceptual model can show, identifies zones that are more likely to produce explosive style eruption behaviours (such as base surges) IF an eruption were to occur in these areas. Highly susceptible zones are not more likely to be the location of future eruptions necessarily, and a lot of data still needs to be added to the model to refine these results. The original article can be read in full here.
Read about the research as covered by the press here:
- Scientists Map auckland’s Volcanic Hazard Zones (Massey News, 07/05/2015)
- Next Auckland Eruption: Should You Worry? Map Pins Volcano Risk Spots (New Zealand Herald, 07/05/2015)
- New Study Reveals Auckland’s Volcanic Risk (Stuff, 07/05/2015)
Hear About ‘Auckland’s Volcanic Risk’ (April 2015)
Listen to volcanologist Jan Lindsay describe the base surge deposits and eruption at Glover Park, what we know about how Auckland’s volcanoes behave, and what we’d expect from the next Auckland eruption on Radio New Zealand National’s ‘Our Changing World’ programme:
- Auckland’s Volcanic Risk (Radio New Zealand National, 16/04/2015)
Red for Danger (April 2015)
This article describes Mary Anne Thompson‘s work on how hazard map design choices influence the communication of hazard.
- Red For Danger (GeoScientist Online, v. 25 (3), April 2015)
The Fire Beneath Us (January 2015)
This in-depth article, two years in the making, describes and illustrates the Auckland Volcanic Field and the DEVORA research programme like never before.
- The Fire Beneath Us (New Zealand Geographic, Jan-Feb 2015, issue 131)