WELLINGTON: New Zealand scientists on Tuesday (Sep 20) raised the alert level for the volcano that lies beneath the country’s largest lake that caused the biggest eruption over the last 5 000 years when it first occurred around 1,800 years ago.
In a statement issued by GeoNet, the geological agency GeoNet announced that it had discovered more than 700 small earthquakes under Lake Taupo, the caldera that was created by the huge volcano, and that it had increased the alert level for volcanic eruptions to 1 from zero.
The system of volcanic alert is based upon six escalating levels of instability, however Geonet states that eruptions could occur at any time and the levels could not be in a sequential order as eruptions can occur at any time.
The Taupo volcano released more than 100 cubic kilometers of rock into the atmosphere at the time it last erupted, around 200 BCE. The eruption devastated the area of the central region of New Zealand’s North Island in a period before the advent of human civilization. Geonet claims that it was the biggest eruption ever recorded on earth during the past 5,000 years.
GeoNet stated that it is the first time that it had increased levels of Taupo Volcano alert level to 1. However, this is not the first occasion there’s been tensions and the likelihood of eruption is very slim.
“The earthquakes and deformation could continue for the coming weeks or months,” it said.
New Zealand straddles the boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates, and is subject to significant earthquakes and volcanism.