Auck­land’s vol­canic risk: could that hap­pen?


As a cloud of ash rained down on Fern­dale, many watch­ing from their couches were stunned.

Thurs­day’s fea­ture-length Short­land Street episode saw a vol­canic erup­tion shoot ash into the sky and shower Fern­dale with rocks and toxic gas. For weeks, the show’s pro­duc­ers hinted about a ’’cat­a­clysmic event’’. But how re­al­is­tic was the sce­nario? Could an Auck­land vol­cano erupt, and would it look any­thing like that?

Erup­tions are con­sid­ered a ‘‘very real haz­ard’’ for Auck­land, ac­cord­ing to Civil De­fence. More than 50 vol­ca­noes lie in the Auck­land Vol­canic Field (AVF), stretch­ing 360sq km across the city. Scarier still, no one knows when dis­as­ter will hit.

Vol­ca­nol­o­gist Brad Scott was con­sulted by South Pa­cific Pictures re­gard­ing the episode and scored it 8/10 for its tech­ni­cal cred­i­bil­ity. Its por­trayal of ash, rock show­ers, toxic gas and downed power lines, was cor­rect. But Scott said there was a lack in show­ing of­fi­cial re­sponse from emer­gency ser­vices.

‘‘But let’s not knock them, this is tele­vi­sion,’’ Scott said.

Vol­canic haz­ard and risk mod­eller for Ge­o­log­i­cal and Nu­clear Sciences, Natalia Deligne said that de­spite years of re­search, they ‘‘have no idea’’ when, or where, Auck­land’s next erup­tion will be. The most re­cent erup­tion, Ran­gi­toto, was 600 years ago.


In Short­land Street’s ex­plo­sive 25th an­niver­sary episode a vol­canic erup­tion de­vis­tated the city, but could that hap­pen in Auck­land?

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