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Lake Taupo earthquake swarm

Lake Taupo earthquake swarm

Published: Wed Jul 17 2019 5:00 PM

Earthquake activity near Lake Taupo usually gets people’s attention. Here’s some information about the latest swarm. Let’s be clear though, New Zealand’s favourite volcano is not about to erupt!

Volcano Duty Officer Steven Sherburn has the latest:

“We’ve located over 160 quakes in the Taupo area over the last week (since 10 July), with eight of these being between M3.1 and M3.8. Earthquakes in the Lake Taupo area are typically shallower than 10 km, and the recent events are no different”.

Earthquakes registered in the last week 10-17 July 2019 at Lake Taupo

Several of the quakes have been felt locally, although most have been too small to be felt. The earthquake activity this week has been grouped in three places, two under the lake and the third about 6 km south of Turangi, as you can see in the image above.

“We see activity like this at Taupo on a fairly regular basis. Quake swarms are common in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, and several are recorded each year. Larger ones have lasted weeks-to-months and have included many hundreds of earthquakes. In terms of quakes under the lake, this number of quakes isn’t unprecedented. In the last year we’ve registered over 1,000 quakes in the lake area”.

The most likely scenario for this recent swarm is that these quakes will die down without fanfare. We've already seen a decline in quakes in this area over the last day.

“Currently, there are no indications that the earthquakes are related to potential volcanic activity, or that the volcano is showing any signs of unrest. We will let you know if any of our monitoring data suggests otherwise. Taupo is not the kind of volcano that could erupt without warning. It could have years of unrest and still not erupt. We know that it will erupt again sometime in the future, but right now there is nothing to worry about.”

A little more about Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is a large caldera volcano with several dormant vents. A caldera volcano is a volcanic crater that usually forms after a large eruption that empties the magma chamber below. The structural support is lost, leaving a large depression. These are often filled by water, like Lake Taupo. There are eight calderas throughout the Taupo Volcanic Zone.


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