Eruption or Catastrophe: Learning to Implement Preparedness for future Supervolcano Eruptions

New Zealand’s central North Island hosts a huge supervolcano system, the most active of its kind on Earth. This system becomes restive every few decades and erupts every few hundred years on average, sometimes in tiny events, and sometimes devastating much of the country. This system will reactivate in the future, to unrest or eruption, yet our understanding of what occurs in these events does not allow us to respond appropriately and there is the possibility of major panic.

We will investigate the underground roots of the volcanic system to identify what conditions cause it to become restless or erupt. We will see if we can identify a tipping point at which unrest becomes eruption, then build our knowledge into advice for monitoring the volcanic system in partnership with the GeoNet programme. We will place future eruptions into modern society to understand and mitigate against the impacts of any future events, and we will design strategies to reduce uncertainties about future unrest or eruptions.

Our programme has just had its funding announced by the Ministry of Business, Industry and Employment (MBIE): please bear with us as we build this site.

New Zealand MBIE Endeavour Research Programme

For further information contact: Colin Wilson, Victoria University of Wellington - Gert Lube, Massey University - Graham Leonard, GNS Science

Photos: D Townsend, GNS Science (top)