Within a radius of about twenty kilometres of Auckland's city centre, there are almost 50 discrete volcanoes - making up what geologists call the Auckland Volcanic Field.
In order to understand the risk of future eruptions, a team of scientists has embarked on a seven-year project to work out what exactly is happening deep under the city, if and when Auckland could experience another eruption, and how the city and its people can best prepare for it.
The DEVORA project - which stands for Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland - is a collaboration between the University of Auckland and GNS Science, with major funding coming from the Earthquake Commission. Volcanologists Jan Lindsay, at the University of Auckland, and Graham Leonard, at GNS Science in Wellington, explain what the DEVORA team hopes to achieve.
Magma heated from below becomes buoyant and rises. It can sometimes do this forcefully and it exploits weaknesses or faults as it moves toward the surface. This creates small earthquakes that indicate volcanic unrest.
Eruptions occur when the magma reaches the surface. In DEVORA, the aim is to understand better how, where and when future eruptions are most likely to occur, and assess how this would affect Auckland.Image by GNS Science.