12 Oct 2017

ECLIPSE - getting ready for a supervolcano eruption

From Our Changing World, 9:07 pm on 12 October 2017

A team of New Zealand and international geologists has got more than $8-million from the Endeavour Fund, managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), for a project that to better prepare New Zealand for future eruptions by the Taupo supervolcano.

The ECLIPSE project will investigate “Eruption or Catastrophe: Learning to Implement Preparedness for future Supervolcano Eruptions.”

Lake Taupo fills the massive caldera of the Taupo supervolcano, and is flanked by further volcanoes such as Ngauruhoe.

Lake Taupo fills the massive caldera of the Taupo supervolcano, and is flanked by further volcanoes such as Ngauruhoe. Photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Small / Flickr

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The project is led by Graham Leonard from GNS Science and Colin Wilson from Victoria University of Wellington, and they say that the project brings together basic geology and disaster preparedness.

They say the Taupo volcanic zone experiences regular unrest, such as sequences of tremors, that happen every ten-or-so years. Although major eruptions are relatively rare events, it is a question of “when, not if” one wlll occur.

The project will work with central North Island communities to help them understand uncertainties in the science of forecasting and understanding eruptions, as well as helping them better prepare for such emergencies.

Colin Wilson was awarded the 2017 Rutherford Medal for his research into supervolcanoes in New Zealand and the United States.

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