Researching Auckland city’s next eruption
Boiling lava is spewing from a mountain in south Auckland, rocks are being thrown through the air and a thick cloud of ash covers the sky - would you know what to do?
This was the question behind new research from GNS Science, which analysed what would happen if one of Auckland’s 52 volcanoes erupted.
The research paper, released in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research this week, is based on a hypothetical twomonth-long period of unrest and eruption near Mangere Bridge, in south Auckland. Geoscientists from GNS Science, the University of Canterbury and Massey University looked at the immediate hazards of an eruption and the ongoing impact an eruption could have on Auckland’s critical infrastructure.
Lead author of the paper, Natalia Deligne, said that while scientists had no idea where the next eruption would be, they could be better prepared by looking at how to respond.
Their eruption scenario included a new volcanic cone being created, a series of small volcanic earthquakes, ash fall, lava flows, and rocks being hurled into the air - all of which were considered realistic possibilities for an eruption in Auckland, Deligne said.
Deligne, a volcanic hazard and risk modeller at GNS Science, said the wider study looked at fuel, roads, rail, ports, aviation, water supply and telecommunications to get a dynamic picture of how Auckland would hold up.
The Auckland volcanic field is the most densely populated field of its type in the world. The field is 250,000 years old and there have been 55 recorded eruptions, the most recent being Rangitoto around 600 years ago.
Most Auckland volcanoes are monogenetic, meaning they only erupt once, so it is very likely that the next volcanic vent in Auckland will erupt in an entirely new location. No spatial patterns have been detected within Auckland’s volcanic field - the oldest and youngest volcanoes, Pupuke and Rangitoto, are next to each other - so the location of a future eruption cannot be predicted through pattern.
While they can’t say where the next eruption will be, GNS scientists say they are certain that there will be a future eruption.
nd 2m-high tsunami waves were predicted for the Manukau Harbour shoreline.
Rangitoto is Auckland’s youngest volcano, having erupted 600 years ago.