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The costs of volcano monitoring: funding the Alaska Volcano Observatory (also, Auckland’s cones need more cash) 16 February 2010

Posted by admin in Auckland, New Zealand, volcanoes.
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Volcano monitoring is a vital service, but who pays? In Alaska budget for the Alaska Volcano Observatory is the focus of current debate. The AVO – which, surely, resoundingly proved its value to everyone during the Redoubt eruption of 2009 – has seen its funding fall dramatically with the loss of those unreliable short-term things Americans call ‘earmarks’:

Congress in recent years has provided annual earmarks through the Federal Aviation Administration for the observatory, which is cited as a key contributor to aviation safety in Alaska. But those earmarks have dried up, and total funding for the observatory has fallen from $8 million per year to $5 million, prompting the state Department of Natural Resources to propose a $300,000 contribution this year to help.

As a result it’s been suggested that airlines and freight companies could pay a levy towards the costs of running AVO, the argument presumably being that these business sectors benefit directly from the monitoring and warning services provided by the observatory. [UPDATE: see Dr Erik Klemetti’s remarks on this at Eruptions.]

Recently we saw the Russian volcano monitoring network KVERT hit the buffers when the money ran out (although a temporary fix has now been put in place): it would be deeply unfortunate, to say the least, if the AVO’s vital monitoring system on the other side of the Bering Strait were to encounter similar difficulties.

Meanwhile, in not unrelated news from New Zealand: getting the necessary cash together to look after Auckland’s volcanic cones properly is proving a problem. Local people want ‘good footpaths, good stormwater protection and a clean, green experience on the cones’, but councillors have refused to reinstate a long-term volcanic protection budget worth NZ$8 million, leaving the cones with a ‘pitiful and downright disrespectful’ NZ$457,000 to live on.

The Volcanism Blog

New deep seismic recorder will improve Auckland volcano readiness 11 May 2008

Posted by admin in Auckland, natural hazards, New Zealand, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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GNS Science in New Zealand is improving its seismic network around the city of Auckland with the installation of the first of a network of deep seismic recorders in a 250m-deep disused borehole at Riverhead, about 20km north-west of the city of Auckland. At the moment a seismic network of five surface instruments is dedicated to picking up signs of volcanic unrest around the city.

[GeoNet Volcano Network Coordinator Craig Miller] said while the earthquake hazard in Auckland is not high by New Zealand standards, the focus of the recording instruments in Auckland was on small earthquakes that might precede a volcanic eruption. ‘By getting away from human ground noise, a borehole recorder will enable better data to be collected that can be used to give timely warning of a possible future volcanic eruption in Auckland.’

The new deep instrument, shielded from surface noise and more sensitive to small tremors, brings the network to six, and GNS Science plans to install more deep instruments in boreholes around Auckland in the near future.

For all our New Zealand coverage: New Zealand << The Volcanism Blog

Global Volcanism Program: Auckland – summary information for the Auckland volcanic field (0401-02=)

New recorder boosts earthquake, volcano warningsNZ Herald, 11 May 2008
Borehole instrument boosts earthquake monitoring in Auckland – GNS Science press release, 9 May 2008

The Volcanism Blog

Buried volcano found in the Panmure Basin, New Zealand 21 February 2008

Posted by admin in Auckland, current research, New Zealand, volcanology.
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A previously unknown volcano has been discovered in the Auckland volcanic field in the North Island of New Zealand. A team from the government-owned geophysical research company GNS Science and the University of Auckland have been drilling and analyzing core samples as part of an investigation of Auckland’s volcanic past. One of their drill cores revealed the presence of a scoria cone within the Panmure Basin, itself the mouth of a volcano that erupted around 28,000 years ago. Another drill core contained 2.6m of ash apparently erupted from nearby Mount Wellington some 9,200 years ago. From the GNS Science press release, 22 February 2008:

Scientists from both organisations, including Phil Shane, Ian Smith and Paul Augustinus of The University of Auckland, will now analyse the chemistry of the drill cores to determine the date and the source of each eruption. They will also try to determine the age of the scoria cone.

Project leader Graham Leonard, a volcanologist with GNS Science, said finding what appears to be a new volcanic cone inside  Panmure Basin was a very exciting result. 

‘Most of Auckland’s volcanoes have erupted only once, with the possible exception of  Rangitoto. We will now analyse the core to see if Panmure volcano should be added to the list’, Dr Leonard said.

It was also important to learn more about the Mount Wellington eruption, as it appeared to be the second most recent Auckland eruption, behind Rangitoto which erupted about 650 years ago.

The Auckland volcanic field is around 140km3 in extent and encompasses more than 50 maars, tuff rings, small lava shields and scoria cones formed over the past 140,000 years. The most recent eruptive activity, the Rangitoto eruption which formed Rangitoto Island, is believed to have taken place c.1350 AD.

Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program – summary information for the Auckland volcanic field (0401-02=)

Geologists find buried volcano inside Panmure Basin – GNS Science press release, 22 February 2008
New Auckland volcano discoveredNZ Herald, 22 February 2008
Buried volcano found in Panmure Basin – tvnz.co.nz, 22 February 2008
Buried volcano found in Panmure Basin – Radio New Zealand News, 22 February 2008

The Volcanism Blog