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New Australian volcano may pop up in Ballarat area, warns geologist 28 September 2009

Posted by admin in natural hazards, volcano monitoring.
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Australian geologist Prof Bernie Joyce was warning us last week that Australia is ‘overdue’ (his word) for a volcanic eruption. Now he’s decided to alarm the citizens of the Ballarat area of Victoria (in south-east Australia) by telling them they should be ready for a new volcano to emerge, ‘very fast and explosive’, in the local landscape:

Associate Professor Bernie Joyce, who made headlines across Australia last week when he claimed a large volcanic eruption in Victoria was ‘well overdue’, said while volcanoes such as Mt Warrenheip and Mt Buninyong were extinct, a new volcano could arise among the region’s volcano clusters.

‘It could still be thousands of years away, but you should expect it to happen’, he said.

‘Because the ones in the Ballarat area are not as young as (those) in far western Victoria and Mt Gambier, you could expect a new volcano to come up in a cluster’.

Mt Warrenheip and Mt Buninyong are scoria cones: the youngest lavas at the former have been dated to 2.53 (+/-0.15) million years. ‘The well-preserved forms of flows and cones may be indicative of ages of less than 100,000 yr, but the few available K-Ar dates on plains lavas near Ballarat and flows apparently from Mount Rowan and Smeaton Hill are within the range 2.9-2.1 Ma’, says Intraplate Volcanism in Eastern Australia and New Zealand, edited by R. W. Johnson (Cambridge University Press 1989), p. 139.

The prospect of future volcanic activity in Australia is certainly real, but it is also remote – and very difficult to ‘prepare’ for. Prof Joyce argues that ‘given the potential for volcanic activity, emergency authorities must better prepare themselves and the community to respond to it’, but, assuming that he is not suggesting precautionary evacuations or the distribution of breathing masks ‘just in case’, it is not at all clear what the Australian emergency authorities can actually do about the possibility that, at some unknowable and perhaps very distant future date, some farmland may be swallowed up by a new scoria cone, or Ballarat receive a dusting of volcanic ash.

New volcano could raise its head hereThe Courier, 28 September 2009

The Volcanism Blog


1. Ron de Haan - 28 September 2009

Pure Alarmism based on theoretical “evidence”.

2. bruce stout - 28 September 2009

This is pretty funny stuff. Even funnier still would be if nature proved him right.

3. Snake Oil Baron - 28 September 2009

Overdue. Don’t you hate it when nature refuses to be punctual?

4. activolcans - 29 September 2009

We’ve got exactly the same matter in France, in Auvergne volcanic region. The ultimate eruptions are 6700 BP but some geologists found tephras from unknown source dated 4500 BP. If there are some alarmist people here (like in all countries….), globaly we just try to explain what king of activity could emerged. But autorities are not very interested by the long terme natrual risks, and the scientific problem is that the Chaine des Puys and Pavin Group volcanic areas are not well understood by volcanologists…

5. poetryqueenau - 7 November 2009

What happens if the volcanic province Western Victoria turns out to be a super volcano? a new volcano can come up as I know any where in the area not just ballarat, all you need is a sniff of sulfur or smoking fumoles from a farm some where (one happened in Mexico). I am a student paramedic at Vic Uni and I do understand that I will most certainly have to learn to deal with volcanic eruptions.

6. baz - 7 November 2009

Well, no harm whatsoever in you learning to deal with the medical consequences of volcanic eruptions, but you are far more likely to be directly using the skills you learn in, say, one of the volcanically active Pacific islands than here in Australia. The threat here is very remote, compared to fires or manmade pollution or epidemics … The Mexican parallell isn’t a good one: the volcanic fields where Jorullo and Parictutin emerged were showing themselves to be active in ways that just aren’t happening in SE Australia. As for the supervolcano … not everywhere where there has ever been volcanic activity is a potential supervolcano, whatever the media may like you to think!

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