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The small sign New Zealand’s supervolcano is active – and what this could mean for the island nation
- Several small earthquakes have been recorded in New Zealand’s Lake Taupō
- Geonet has reported a total of 84 tremors in the area over the last three weeks
- The earthquakes in the area provide evidence that Taupō volcano is still active
A series of small earthquakes have been reported at New Zealand’s Lake Taupō, creating concerns over the signs of volcanic unrest in the area.
Geonet, an agency that operates a geological hazard monitoring system for New Zealand, recorded 84 small quakes over the past two to three weeks.
The quakes have all been minor, with only two reaching past a magnitude 3, equivalent to feeling slight vibrations and seeing indoor objects possibly shake.
It is evidence that Taupō volcano is active as small earthquakes, movements of the ground up and down and changes in the geothermal fields are indicators of volcanic unrest.
A series of small earthquakes have been reported at New Zealand’s Lake Taupō, creating concerns over the signs of volcanic unrest in the area. (Pictured: Map of the region with dots representing tremors)
Geonet, an agency monitoring geological hazards in New Zealand, recorded 84 earthquakes over the past two to three weeks at Lake Taupō (pictured)
The most recent earthquake swarm in the Lake Taupō region began on April 28.
Geonet measured the quakes at depths between 7 to 16 kilometres and shallower than 15 kilometres.
Quakes in the area are common, and several are recorded every year.
‘Larger ones have lasted weeks to months and can include many hundreds of earthquakes,’ Geonet said.
The recent series of quakes are in two clusters, with one located in the middle of the lake and the other cluster found along the eastern shore.
Geonet says the quakes could be ‘related to the active faults in the TVZ and volcanic processes at the caldera volcanoes like Taupō and Okataina’.
The tremors are similar to a swarm recorded in 2019, which the agency conducted a study on.
They noted in the study that the quakes were ‘related to the margins of the hot mush zone under the volcano and are signs that Taupō volcano is active’.
‘Variations in the level of background unrest are common for caldera volcanoes like Taupō.’
There have been more than 4200 quakes in the area in the past 10 years and 17 episodes of volcanic unrest in the past 140 years.
Earthquakes have also been recorded in the north, where several more active volcanoes are located.
Taupō is a ‘supervolcano’ that has experienced some of the most violent volanic eruptions on the planet, with the last eruption occurring 1,800 years ago. (Pictured: Artist impression of a new eruption column during the Oruanui eruption of Taupō Volcano in 26,500 BCE)
One of the volcanoes located in the Taupō Volcanic Zone is Whakaari (pictured), which erupted in December 2019, killing 22 people and injuring 25
Taupō is a ‘supervolcano’ that has experienced some of the most violent volanic eruptions on the planet, with the last eruption occurring 1,800 years ago.
There have been 29 eruptions at Taupō in the last 30,000 years.
Out of those 29, three eruptions have been very large and the remaining ones have been much smaller, according to Geonet.
Taupō lies on the Taupō Volcanic Zone, which encompasses several volcanic centres on New Zealand’s North Island.
White Island is one of the volcanoes located in the Taupō Volcanic Zone and is the latest volcano in the zone to erupt in 2019.
The volcano, also known as Whakaari, explosively erupted on December 9, 2019, killing 22 people – including 14 Australians – and injuring 25.
Dozens more suffered serious injuries. The dead and injured were tourists and their guides visiting the volcano.