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Is Christchurch headed for a volcanic eruption?   

Sits beside two "extinct" volcanoes

4,985 earthquakes since September

 

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23 Feb 11 - When I first opened this email I laughed. How ridiculous. But then I learned that Banks Peninsula, just south of Christchurch, consists of two overlapping extinct volcanoes, the Lyttelton Volcano and the Akaroa Volcano.

Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, showing "extinct" volcanoes
Credit: Neil Love

 

According to NASA, Banks Peninsula, named for explorer Captain Cook’s botanist, consists of two overlapping extinct volcanoes, the Lyttelton Volcano and the Akaroa Volcano. Since the last eruptive activity some six million years ago, the volcanoes have been heavily eroded, dropping them from a peak of 1,500 meters down to around 500 meters.

Breaches in the crater walls have produced two long harbors: Lyttelton Harbour to the north and Akaroa Harbour to the south.

Reader Neil Love added red dots to an aerial view of the Banks Peninsula (above) to show the location of these "extinct" volcanoes.  

Here's what Neil had to say:

Dear Robert,

I am worried that the situation in Christchurch is going to be even more destructive than it is already. I see it as being a large volcanic eruption coming on. Perhaps these two picture can give viewers a better comprehension of what is developing. In my opinion the NZ government should completely evacuate Christchurch and just leave it empty. I say this because when the volcano "Mount Cook" explodes it is going to kill everyone and flatten everything within a 100 kilometer range of it.

Neil Love, British Isles


Response from New Zealand resident

Mount Cook isn't a volcano.  It never has been a volcano, isn't in an active volcanic region and doesn't contain volcanic rock/basalt in his make-up, I believe mainly greywacke, sandstone and mudstone.  

Banks peninsula comprises 15 volcanic vents/cones - not 3. These have not been active for 6 million years and the subduction zone and 'hot spot' that made their creation possible has long since moved away - much like the Hawaiian chain islands of extinct volcanoes.   

GNS scientists here in NZ have tested the hot springs around Banks Peninsula post-quakes.  The chemical composition of that water is not that which would indicate volcanic activity/source.  The massive amount of liquefaction and earthquakes that Christchurch has experienced has caused changes in water table and natural spring levels but again nothing indicating volcanic activity or presence of magma.  

- Mandie Emberton 


Now, I don't think one or two earthquakes signify an upcoming eruption. Normally you'd see earthquake swarms leading up to such an event.

However, I heard on the radio last night that more than 1,000 aftershocks have struck Christchurch just since the large earthquake in September, which puts a new slant on it.

Update. Almost 5,000 earthquakes (so-called aftershocks) have struck the Christchurch area since September - 193 in the past seven days alone.

See this most amazing animated map. It shows every single one of those quakes, one by one by one
http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/
Thanks to Cam McNaughton for this info and link
      "No one seems to mention the volcanic nature
        of the area near Christchurch," says Cam.

But let me be clear. I am not suggesting that the area be evacuated. I don't begin to have the expertise to say that.  

Besides, who needs a volcano? I'd be petrified to live there just because of the earthquakes alone.

See also
Engineer concurs - Christchurch could be headed for volcanic eruption

 

Another photo from Neil Love showing what he perceives
to be an even larger extinct volcano.

New Zealand supervolcano?
Credit: Neil Love
 
 

Amazing animated map of Christchurch area
Shows every quake since Sept 4, one by one by one.
(Wait a few seconds after it loads and you'll see
what I mean.)
 http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/
Thanks to Cam McNaughton for this link

 

 

 



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