Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


UC research discovers fresh information about NZ volcanos

UC research discovers fresh information about key NZ volcanoes

March 7, 2014

University of Canterbury (UC) has uncovered fresh information about New Zealand’s volcanoes that could be helpful when volcanoes erupt in future.

Geology researcher Dr Paul Ashwell, with supervision from volcanologist Dr Ben Kennedy, found a host of factors play a part in how lava domes erupt, including the underlying ground surface and the physical make-up of the lava itself.

Understanding these factors and how they affect the eruption of lava is critical to predicting how a dome will form and if it will produce block and ash flows.

Dr Ashwell’s thesis investigated lava domes at Mt Tarawera and Mt Ngongotaha, near Rotorua, so he could look how each dome erupted and what impact it would have had on the surrounding areas.

Mt Tarawera erupted about 700 years ago and rates as the largest eruption in New Zealand since Taupo erupted 1800 years ago. Tarawera formed three large lava domes at the top of the volcano.

``This eruption was studied by another of my supervisors, Professor Jim Cole, and was an important site for understanding early concepts of volcanology in the 1960s and 1970s,’’ Dr Ashwell says.

``I built on this work by looking at one of the lava domes, Ruawahia, which is at the summit of Mt Tarawera, in detail and mapped very small structures such as bubbles and crystals to get an idea as to how each part of the dome erupted.

``I found that Ruawahia may be made up of several smaller domes or flows of lava that together form the dome, but each forming at a different time. I also found out that the underlying ground surface was a very important feature, as it dictated how far the lava could move.

``Matt Edwards, an honours student at UC, and myself have mapped the edge of Ruawahia, and performed experiments using our UC Magma Brewery to see if we can recreate how the Tarawera lava behaved as it flowed.

``We discovered that popcorn-like rock on the edges of Tarawera was evidence that big chunks had fallen off during eruptions, producing clouds of hot gas, ash and rocks that incinerated the land beneath the volcano. These events pose a significant hazard at lava domes in New Zealand and around the world.

``At Mt Ngongotaha, I found the lava dome behaved quite differently to Mt Tarawera, and part of my research was to look into why this was.’’

Dr Kennedy says Dr Ashwell arrived in New Zealand a few years ago as a fresh-faced British farm boy with no money and little experience outside the UK.

``He did know he wanted to study for a PhD in volcanology at UC. Five years later Paul has won awards for his ground-breaking research and is leading trips to New Zealand volcanoes and to the Antarctic.

``Paul has followed in the footsteps of one of the first volcanologists in New Zealand, Professor Jim Cole, by studying the eruptions of Mt Tarawera. Paul’s research revealed that Mt Tarawera was not plugged by a single large lava dome prior to the 1886 eruption as previously thought.

``Recently, Paul was a postgraduate field tutor in the Antarctic guiding students around the volcanoes that surround Scott Base, New Zealand’s field station for scientific research in Antarctica.

``Paul’s life changing experience in Christchurch and at UC will allow him to stay in Christchurch teaching geology to undergraduate students and to continue researching volcanoes which is great news,’’ Dr Kennedy says.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Starts Talks On Tougher Rules For Property Speculators

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is stepping up preparations to restrict lending to residential property investors as it watches house prices, particularly in Auckland, continue to rise strongly. More>>

ALSO:

Research: ‘Ageing Well’ Science Challenge Launched

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, confirming initial funding of $14.6 million. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Govt Resisting Pressure To Pump More Cash Into Solid Energy

Prime Minister John Key says it is “not the government’s preferred option” to make a fresh capital injection into the troubled state-owned coal miner, Solid Energy, but dodged journalists’ questions at his weekly press conference on whether that might prove necessary... More>>

ALSO:

Lagest Ever Privacy Breach Award: NZCU Baywide Accepts “Severe” Censure In Cake Case

NZCU Baywide says that once it was found to have committed a breach of a former staff member’s privacy, it had attempted to resolve the matter... the censure and remedies for its actions taken almost three years ago are “severe” but accepted, and will hopefully draw a line under the matter. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: PayPal Stops Processing Mega Payments; NZX Listing Still On

PayPal has ceased processing payments for Mega, the file storage and encryption firm looking to join the New Zealand stock market via a reverse listing of TRS Investments, amid claims it is not a legitimate cloud storage service. More>>

ALSO:

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news