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Scientists Peer Into Auckland’s Volcanic History

8 JANUARY 2006

Scientists Peer Into Auckland’s Volcanic History

Scientists plan to drill a deep hole in The Domain this week to find out more about the history of Auckland’s volcanoes.

The geologists from GNS Science and the University of Auckland will drill to about 30 metres beneath The Domain’s playing fields looking for volcanic ash layers from prehistoric eruptions.

The Domain volcano is thought to be about 150,000 years old and is one of the older volcanic remnants of Auckland’s Volcanic Field. Buried sediments beneath The Domain contain layers of ash from local eruptions as well as from volcanoes further away, such as Mount Taranaki and those in the central North Island.

Drilling is scheduled to start on 9 January and should be completed in two days.

Project co-ordinator Graham Leonard, of GNS Science, said the drilling was part of a long-term research project started in 1999 to gain a better understanding of the eruptive history of Auckland’s volcanoes.

The scientists have collected drill-cores from other volcanic craters including Onepoto Domain and Glover Park in St Heliers in the past five years.

“ There are still major gaps in our knowledge of the size and timing of pre-historic eruptions in the Auckland region,” Dr Leonard said.

“ An important part of understanding the volcanic hazard facing Auckland is to improve our knowledge of past eruptions. Gleaning information from these drill-cores will help reduce some of the uncertainty about eruptive patterns in Auckland.

“ Ash layers that have been buried for thousands of years are usually well preserved and contain a surprising amount of information about past eruptions.”

The 85mm-wide core sections produced by the drilling will be carefully stored at Auckland University for analysis. The drill-hole will be back-filled with earth so that within a few days there will be almost no trace of the drilling.

The Auckland Volcanic Field is relatively young in geological terms. Scientists believe it formed about 240,000 years ago and has a probable life-span of about
about a million years.


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