New Zealand Volcanic Alerts

Explosive Shortland Street’s 25th Anniversary Show includes a volcanic eruption: is this a thing?

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Fri, 26/05/2017 - 11:11am

Blog post edited by Sara Page

Thursday 25 May 2017

Celebrating 25 years of exotic cliff-hangers and plot twists, Shortland Street, a 25-year running New Zealand based soap opera, pulled out all the stops, including a volcanic eruption for its 25th anniversary show.

And what was GeoNet’s part in all of this? Well, six weeks ago our volcano team, were approached by a research-writer of the show, asking for some guidance. We played our hand at being consultants on the possibilities and realities of an Auckland volcanic scenario.  The producers provided several scenarios but we were not told which one would make it on screen. So, we had some inside knowledge of what was planned to mark the 25th anniversary, but the details of how the story would play out on screen were kept a hot secret.  We were also sworn to secrecy not to reveal any details of the upcoming story lines.

Because we didn’t know the outcome of the scenario, our duty team was then given an unusual assignment: watch Shortland Street (some never have!). We admit that our volcanology team were erupting with excitement as they settled in for the 90-minute show. Then, they were given the task to report back on what was fact and what was under “creative license”.

Here’s what the team had to say:

The story line did a great job drawing out several key themes that are related to volcanic events. The major ones covered are;

  • earthquakes are a credible part of volcanic unrest that occurs before an eruption. 
  • People will be unsettled or saying it's nothing (a natural reaction). 
  • Once the eruption started many themes were covered, like people putting table napkins on as masks (bandit style), these will only give a very low level of protection, but in an emergency are better than nothing.  
  • The phone and power problems (engineering lifeline issues) are very real. 
  • It was good to see the gas hazard; may have been overplayed with deaths/affects. 

Some aspects of the volcanic eruption were portrayed poorly:

  • Ash density was one issue...it was too light and stayed in the air too long, the use of low visibility was good though.
  • The eruption was over quickly; in real life, it would last a lot longer.  

Overall though, aspects of the volcanic hazards were portrayed well. There was no lava, that is credible at the start of an eruption.

The questions regarding ash toxicity were good, this is usually not too much of a health issue, and may cause irritation and inflammation of the eyes and possibly skin. And may cause more problems for those with pre-existing respiratory illnesses. The story line depicted the risks of trying to work and move in an ashy environment quite well…. best to avoid all travel outside. Ash ingress to buildings would have been higher with the amount of door openings. Also, it seemed like there was a lot of self-evacuation, no evacuations by officials - credible if onset is this fast. The story line was very low on official responses, CDEM messages, GeoNet messages, Volcanic Aert Levels etc. However, gas and wind modelling was covered.

Many aspects of the human responses were well covered; people been scared and anxious – this is likely. Also, people reuniting-understanding where and how friends/family are being a real priority for many, and challenging. Domestic violence increasing during and after disasters is credible. However, the use of ash masks as gas masks, is not credible. People giving birth, life goes on during a disaster.

Having viewed the show, ourselves, we think it’s reasonable that you all may be wondering “Could this really happen?” (or maybe some of you aren’t)

Regardless, here’s a bit more detail and explanation about the Volcanic Auckland Field. The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is a unique volcano environment in New Zealand. Rather than the volcano being in a fixed location like Ruapehu or Taranaki, each volcano in Auckland is in a new location; naturally there is an exception and that is Rangitoto Island. It has erupted 2, maybe 3 times, and the only volcano in Auckland to have done that. The last eruption in the AFV was about 600 years ago.

Aside from the mixed feelings around the quality of acting and portrayal of the volcanic impacts we have, our overall opinion of the Shortland Street episode was an 8/10. It is rewarding to see geological processes are becoming a little more mainstream. GeoNet exists to help New Zealanders’ live with the hazards that make our country, well, our country. Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and all the events we experience are part of what makes us Kiwi’s. GeoNet likes to encourage conversations around our geohazards so a full episode on Shortland Street, especially when it’s Dr Chris Warner birthday, blew our expectations.

Quote of the show:

“I’ve come from the mountain.  This is a cleansing fire, only the strong will survive”

Thanks to the Shortand Street team for talking to us about this project. Well done.

 

Sara Page 2017-05-25T22:11:00Z

Explosive Shortland Street’s 25th Anniversary Show includes a volcanic eruption: is this a thing?

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Thu, 25/05/2017 - 10:51pm

Blog post edited by Brad Scott

Thursday 25 May 2017

Celebrating 25 years of exotic cliff-hangers and plot twists, Shortland Street, a 25-year running New Zealand based soap opera, pulled out all the stops, including a volcanic eruption for its 25th anniversary show.

And what was GeoNet’s part in all of this? Well, six weeks ago our volcano team, were approached by a research-writer of the show, asking for some guidance. We played our hand at being consultants on the possibilities and realities of an Auckland volcanic scenario.  The producers provided several scenarios but we were not told which one would make it on screen. So, we had some inside knowledge of what was planned to mark the 25th anniversary, but the details of how the story would play out on screen were kept a hot secret.  We were also sworn to secrecy not to reveal any details of the upcoming story lines.

Because we didn’t know the outcome of the scenario, our duty team was then given an unusual assignment: watch Shortland Street (some never have!). We admit that our volcanology team were erupting with excitement as they settled in for the 90-minute show. Then, they were given the task to report back on what was fact and what was under “creative license”.

Here’s what the team had to say:

The story line did a great job drawing out several key themes that are related to volcanic events. The major ones covered are; Earthquakes are a credible part of volcanic unrest that occurs before an eruption. People will be unsettled or saying it's nothing (a natural reaction). Once the eruption started may themes were covered, like people putting table napkins on as masks (bandit style), not the best thing to use but still useful if you have nothing.  The phone and power problems (engineering lifeline issues) are very real. It was good to see the gas hazard; may have been overplayed with deaths/affects. Aspect of the volcanic were portrayed poorly, density was the issue...was too light stayed in the air too long. The use of low visibility is good though. Overall aspect of the volcanic hazards was portrayed well. There was no lava, that is credible at the start of an eruption. The eruption was over quickly; in real life, it would last a lot longer.

The questions re ash toxicity were good, this is usually not too much of a health issue, but may cause problems for those with pre-existing respiratory illnesses, or if water is drunk with ash in it. The story line depicted the risks of trying to work and move in an ashy environment quite well…. best to avoid all travel outside. Ash ingress to buildings...would have been higher with the amount of door openings. Also, seems like there was a lot of self-evacuation, no evacuations by officials - credible if onset is this fast. The story line was very low on official responses, CDEM messages, GeoNet messages, VAL etc. However, gas and wind modelling was covered.

Many aspects of the human responses were well covered; people been scared and anxious – this is likely. Also, people reuniting-understanding where and how friends/family are being a real priority for many, and challenging. Domestic violence increasing during and after disasters is credible. However, the use of ash masks as gas masks, is not credible. People giving birth, life goes on during a disaster.

Having viewed the show, ourselves, we think it’s reasonable that you all may be wondering “Could this really happen?” (or maybe some of you aren’t) Regardless, here’s a bit more detail and explanation about the Volcanic Auckland Field. The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is a unique volcano environment in New Zealand. Rather than the volcano been in a fixed location like Ruapehu or Taranaki, each volcano in Auckland is in a new location; naturally there is an exception and that is Rangitoto Island. It has erupted 2, maybe 3 times. The only volcano in Auckland to have done that. The last eruption in the AFV was about 600 years ago.

Aside from the mixed feelings around the quality of acting and portrayal of the volcanic impacts we have, our overall opinion of the Shortland Street episode, we scored it 8/10. It is rewarding to see geological processes are becoming a little more mainstream. GeoNet exists to help New Zealanders’ live with the hazards that make our country, well, our country. Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and all the events we experience are part of what makes us Kiwi’s. GeoNet likes to encourage conversations around our geohazards so a full episode on Shortland Street, especially when it’s Dr Chris Warner birthday, blew our expectations.

Quote of the show:

“I’ve come from the mountain.  This is a cleansing fire, only the strong will survive”

Thanks to the Shortand Street team for talking to us about this project. Well done.

 

Brad Scott 2017-05-25T09:51:55Z

How robust are our volcano monitoring networks?

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Fri, 21/04/2017 - 2:49pm

Blog post edited by Anonymous

Written by volcanologist Geoff Kilgour: 

Here at GeoNet we like to test the performance of our network under difficult circumstances. Sometimes we subject our systems to a “stress test” and a good example of this is when we monitor the performance of the website during unusually high demand, like after a large earthquake. Thankfully, we have some great minds that keep our computer systems up and running under very difficult circumstances so we know that we will be able to keep you informed throughout natural events.

Less well known is the ability of our physical networks (seismometers and GPS equipment) to operate under severe weather events. Last week, New Zealand felt the sting of Cyclone Cook as it sauntered south along the eastern side of the North Island. Its path intersected with our beloved White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano.

On the island, we have a sophisticated network of sensors and communication equipment that streams data to our offices in near-real time, despite being around 50 km offshore. Over recent years, the network has been strengthened and there is now redundancy built in so that if a sensor or communication hub fails (e.g. is buried in an eruption) the data are still available for analysis. We thought that our world-class technicians had done an amazing job achieving this in a very acidic environment, yet we are now able to fully appreciate their efforts after Cyclone Cook swung by.

A week ago, White Island was battered by wind gusts from Cyclone Cook of up to 200 km/h and yet the network held its own. According to our senior volcano technician Richard Johnson “the network didn’t miss a beat”. Even Dino survived intact. So we are more confident than ever that our networks are robust enough to function as per normal during some of the most difficult weather conditions imaginable. All thanks to our skilful technicians.

Unknown User (ashenden) 2017-04-21T01:49:29Z

White Island (Whakaari): Volcano remains quiet, moderate gas emissions

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Mon, 03/04/2017 - 3:23pm

Blog post edited by Brad Scott

3 April 2017 14.10h

VOLCANIC ALERT BULLETIN: WI – 2017/01

14:00 pm Monday 3 April 2017; White Island Volcano

Alert Status:

Volcanic Alert Level 1 (no change)

Aviation Colour Code: Green (no change)

Observations during visits to White Island over the last 3-4 months confirm that activity remains at low levels. Activity is confined to the gas rich vents on the western side of the active crater. Hot, clear gas continues to be emitted. Some water has ponded on the floor of the active crater but no permanent lake has reformed. The seismic and acoustic activity generally remain low, and the SO2 gas flux is slowly declining. 

The larger hot gas rich vents on the remains of the 2012 lava intrusion are the main source of gas. The temperature of the gas has ranged 250-300 ºC when measured recently. Tour operators reported very minor ash in the gas plume on 20 February; otherwise no changes are apparent. Following larger rainfall events on the island water is ponding on the crater floor, but soon soaks away or is evaporated. Hence no Crater Lake has reformed.

Seismic activity on the volcano during the last 3-4 months has been at low levels, punctuated occasionally by minor periods of small local earthquakes or weak volcanic tremor. A sequence of very small high frequency events has been apparent since 26 March but is now declining. No acoustic signals (explosions) have been detected.

The largest accessible fumarole, known as F0 has been sampled and we have regularly measured its temperature. This has ranged 170-182 °C over the last few months. SO2 gas flux as measured by the automatic DOAS sensors has declined from around 400 tonnes/day to 200 tonnes/day post January, but remaining above the pre-2011 values (50-100 tonnes/day).

We continue to monitor the volcano for possible renewed activity. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1. The Aviation Colour code remains Green.

Art Jolly

Duty Volcanologist

 

Media Contact:

Brad Scott (07 3748211)

 

 

Brad Scott 2017-04-03T02:23:12Z

Watching out for Auckland’s next eruption; from a vent that doesn’t exist yet

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Tue, 14/03/2017 - 4:39pm

Blog post edited by Anonymous

10/03/2017

The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is uniquely different from the well-known volcanoes in New Zealand in that each eruption occurs from a new location and the volcanoes do not erupt twice; Rangitoto is the only known exception, as it has erupted at least twice. Globally very few eruptions have occurred historically from volcanic fields so we do not have a lot of knowledge of what happens before an eruption. Traditionally, monitoring an active volcano is based around recording seismic signals, ground deformation and gas or water chemistry. When we do not know where the next vent might be we are left with just one method to use; earthquake recording.

The DEVORA research project has been looking at many aspects of volcanic activity in Auckland, including possible eruption precursors. This has involved looking for historical examples of similar eruptions elsewhere in the world. Was there volcanic unrest?  How did it manifest?  One of the common unrest indicators is earthquake activity. Another clue can be found in the rocks that the volcano has erupted. Many signals are preserved in the crystals and they tell us about the journey the rocks have been on. From this work, we know the Auckland magmas start out from great depth (80-100 km). We also know that they rise relatively fast and don’t appear to stall on the way. What is not clear is what signals these processes will make. Will they make many or just a few earthquakes? How big will the earthquakes be? What type of earthquake will they be? Will there be volcanic tremor?

 

Based on these challenges GeoNet has had to devise the monitoring in Auckland around a seismic network that covers all the known locations of volcanoes. The Auckland Volcanic Field spans about 27 km north-south and 19 km east-west and underlies a major city. There is no geothermal system and we will not see any ground deformation until shortly before the eruption starts. The greatest issue is cultural noise (the city) and this stops us seeing small earthquakes. This is overcome by using borehole sensors. Auckland Regional Council (ARC) started building a near-real time seismic network in 1993 with NZ Geological Survey and this was operational from the mid 1990’s. The network was connected to the GeoNet project in 2003. At that time, there were 5 seismic sensors in the Auckland area, four of which were in boreholes.

Starting in 2006 GeoNet upgraded the network by adding 3-component sensors and then by adding more borehole sensors and increasing the area covered. Today the seismic sensors in Auckland are fully integrated into GeoNet. We operate seven 3-component borehole sensors, 1 single component borehole site, three 3-component sites and 4 strong motion sites. Since 1994 we have recorded and located 372 earthquakes in the greater Auckland area, about 16 a year. None of these appear to be related to volcanic processes. 

Unknown User (saramb) 2017-03-14T03:39:53Z

Watching out for Auckland’s next eruption; from a vent that doesn’t exist yet

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Fri, 10/03/2017 - 4:40pm

Blog post edited by Brad Scott

The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is uniquely different from the well-known volcanoes in New Zealand in that each eruption occurs from a new location and the volcanoes do not erupt twice; Rangitoto is the only known exception, as it has erupted at least twice. Globally very few eruptions have occurred historically from volcanic fields so we do not have a lot of knowledge of what happens before an eruption. Traditionally, monitoring an active volcano is based around recording seismic signals, ground deformation and gas or water chemistry. When we do not know where the next vent might be we are left with just one method to use; earthquake recording.

The DEVORA research project has been looking at many aspects of volcanic activity in Auckland, including possible eruption precursors. This has involved looking for historical examples of similar eruptions elsewhere in the world. Was there volcanic unrest?  How did it manifest?  One of the common unrest indicators is earthquake activity. Another clue can be found in the rocks that the volcano has erupted. Many signals are preserved in the crystals and they tell us about the journey the rocks have been on. From this work, we know the Auckland magmas start out from great depth (80-100 km). We also know that they rise relatively fast and don’t appear to stall on the way. What is not clear is what signals these processes will make. Will they make many or just a few earthquakes? How big will the earthquakes be? What type of earthquake will they be? Will there be volcanic tremor?

 

Based on these challenges GeoNet has had to devise the monitoring in Auckland around a seismic network that covers all the known locations of volcanoes. The Auckland Volcanic Field spans about 27 km north-south and 19 km east-west and underlies a major city. There is no geothermal system and we will not see any ground deformation until shortly before the eruption starts. The greatest issue is cultural noise (the city) and this stops us seeing small earthquakes. This is overcome by using borehole sensors. Auckland Regional Council (ARC) started building a near-real time seismic network in 1993 with NZ Geological Survey and this was operational from the mid 1990’s. The network was connected to the GeoNet project in 2003. At that time, there were 5 seismic sensors in the Auckland area, four of which were in boreholes.

Starting in 2006 GeoNet upgraded the network by adding 3-component sensors and then by adding more borehole sensors and increasing the area covered. Today the seismic sensors in Auckland are fully integrated into GeoNet. We operate seven 3-component borehole sensors, 1 single component borehole site, three 3-component sites and 4 strong motion sites. Since 1994 we have recorded and located 372 earthquakes in the greater Auckland area, about 16 a year. None of these appear to be related to volcanic processes. 

Brad Scott 2017-03-10T03:40:24Z

Watching out for Auckland’s next eruption; from a vent that doesn’t exist yet

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Fri, 10/03/2017 - 3:48pm

Blog post edited by Sara McBride

The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is uniquely different from the well-known volcanoes in New Zealand in that each eruption occurs from a new location and the volcanoes do not erupt twice; Rangitoto is the only known exception, as it has erupted at least twice. Globally very few eruptions have occurred historically from volcanic fields so we do not have a lot of knowledge of what happens before an eruption. Traditionally, monitoring an active volcano is based around recording seismic signals, ground deformation and gas or water chemistry. When we do not know where the next vent might be we are left with just one method to use; earthquake recording.

The DEVORA research project has been looking at many aspects of volcanic activity in Auckland, including possible eruption precursors. This has involved looking for historical examples of similar eruptions elsewhere in the world. Was there volcanic unrest?  How did it manifest?  One of the common unrest indicators is earthquake activity. Another clue can be found in the rocks that the volcano has erupted. Many signals are preserved in the crystals and they tell us about the journey the rocks have been on. From this work, we know the Auckland magmas start out from great depth (80-100 km). We also know that they rise relatively fast and don’t appear to stall on the way. What is not clear is what signals these processes will make. Will they make many or just a few earthquakes? How big will the earthquakes be? What type of earthquake will they be? Will there be volcanic tremor?

 

Based on these challenges GeoNet has had to devise the monitoring in Auckland around a seismic network that covers all the known locations of volcanoes. The Auckland Volcanic Field spans about 27 km north-south and 19 km east-west and underlies a major city. There is no geothermal system and we will not see any ground deformation until shortly before the eruption starts. The greatest issue is cultural noise (the city) and this stops us seeing small earthquakes. This is overcome by using borehole sensors. Auckland Regional Council (ARC) started building a near-real time seismic network in 1993 with NZ Geological Survey and this was operational from the mid 1990’s. The network was connected to the GeoNet project in 2003. At that time, there were 5 seismic sensors in the Auckland area, four of which were in boreholes.

Starting in 2006 GeoNet upgraded the network by adding 3-component sensors and then by adding more borehole sensors and increasing the area covered. Today the seismic sensors in Auckland are fully integrated into GeoNet. We operate seven 3-component borehole sensors, 1 single component borehole site, three 3-component sites and 4 strong motion sites. Since 1994 we have recorded and located 372 earthquakes in the greater Auckland area, about 16 a year. None of these appear to be related to volcanic processes. 

Sara McBride 2017-03-10T02:48:28Z

Watching out for Auckland’s next eruption from a vent that doesn’t exist yet

New Zealand Volcanic Bulletins - Fri, 10/03/2017 - 3:19pm

Blog post edited by Brad Scott

The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) is uniquely different from the well-known volcanoes in New Zealand in that each eruption occurs from a new location and the volcanoes do not erupt twice; Rangitoto is the only known exception, as it has erupted at least twice. Globally very few eruptions have occurred historically from volcanic fields so we do not have a lot of knowledge of what happens before an eruption. Traditionally, monitoring an active volcano is based around recording seismic signals, ground deformation and gas or water chemistry. When we do not know where the next vent might be we are left with just one method to use; earthquake recording.

The DEVORA research project has been looking at many aspects of volcanic activity in Auckland, including possible eruption precursors. This has involved looking for historical examples of similar eruptions elsewhere in the world. Was there volcanic unrest?  How did it manifest?  One of the common unrest indicators is earthquake activity. Another clue can be found in the rocks that the volcano has erupted. Many signals are preserved in the crystals and they tell us about the journey the rocks have been on. From this work, we know the Auckland magmas start out from great depth (80-100 km). We also know that they rise relatively fast and don’t appear to stall on the way. What is not clear is what signals these processes will make. Will they make many or just a few earthquakes? How big will the earthquakes be? What type of earthquake will they be? Will there be volcanic tremor?

 

Based on these challenges GeoNet has had to devise the monitoring in Auckland around a seismic network that covers all the known locations of volcanoes. The Auckland Volcanic Field spans about 27 km north-south and 19 km east-west and underlies a major city. There is no geothermal system and we will not see any ground deformation until shortly before the eruption starts. The greatest issue is cultural noise (the city) and this stops us seeing small earthquakes. This is overcome by using borehole sensors. Auckland Regional Council (ARC) started building a near-real time seismic network in 1993 with NZ Geological Survey and this was operational from the mid 1990’s. The network was connected to the GeoNet project in 2003. At that time, there were 5 seismic sensors in the Auckland area, four of which were in boreholes.

Starting in 2006 GeoNet upgraded the network by adding 3-component sensors and then by adding more borehole sensors and increasing the area covered. Today the seismic sensors in Auckland are fully integrated into GeoNet. We operate seven 3-component borehole sensors, 1 single component borehole site, three 3-component sites and 4 strong motion sites. Since 1994 we have recorded and located 372 earthquakes in the greater Auckland area, about 16 a year. None of these appear to be related to volcanic processes. 

Brad Scott 2017-03-10T02:19:28Z
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