New Australian volcano may pop up in Ballarat area, warns geologist 28 September 2009Posted by admin in natural hazards, volcano monitoring.
Tags: Australia, natural hazards, volcano monitoring
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 here – The Courier, 28 September 2009