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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ancient Taupo super-volcano eruption

NZ geologist finds large seismic event triggered Taupo super-volcano eruption

by The Extinction Protocol
April 21, 2012 – NEW ZEALAND - One of the most intriguing unsolved cases for New Zealand geologists is the ancient Taupo super-eruption. Victoria University PhD student Aidan Allan has found new evidence that explains how and why the volcano blew. 

While the general public is fascinated by the magnitude – the event buried the North Island in debris, with the ash cloud all the way to the Chathams – geologists' interest lies elsewhere. They are intrigued because the eruption's cause isn't open-and-shut – while most super-volcanoes simply explode, with Taupo there was a short hiatus just as things got underway. "There were breaks of weeks to months [in the early stages] and then all hell breaks loose," Mr. Allan said. As geologists worldwide have to make the life-or-death call as to when an eruption has ended, it's crucial to know why this super-volcano acted the way it did. 

The event began in standard fashion, at least in super-volcano terms, with a massive 530sq km pool of magma building up below the surface, under more and more pressure. As the two pools of magma were physically separated by 15km of rock, Mr Allan suspected a major tectonic force had shifted the magma from the northeast site to the vents of the Taupo super-volcano. With layer upon layer of chemical evidence confirming the presence of two types of magma, it seems he'd found a potential suspect for the mysterious halting of the super-eruption. Caught at the scene of the crime, tectonic forces were now the prime suspect.  Today, with both systems believed to be dormant, the forces that caused such problems are no longer suspect, and it's the profile of the event that's the most relevant. Super-eruptions are caused by the pooling of magma under the surface with no available domes or vents to release tension. 

Pressure builds to a saturation point, triggering explosive eruptions thousands of times more powerful than standard eruptions. Super-volcanoes collapse into calderas, where the ground falls into the space left by the erupted magma. Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua are both calderas. -Stuff

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