MATATA, New Zealand. Recent magma build-up has been discovered by geologists underneath Matata, which came as a shock to the community.
The town is located on the coast of the North Island of New Zealand, about 125 miles from Auckland. Surprisingly, this region has no active volcano nearby, and therefore the magma build-up is puzzling scientists.
Satellite data was used to monitor changes in the earth’s crust due to recent seismic activity in New Zealand. Monitoring activities pinpointed the Matata region for further investigation, and the subsequent magma build-up was soon discovered.
According to the gentleman behind these recent observations, leading geophysicist Ian Hamling, the discovery came as a “big surprise”.
Hamling and his colleagues were studying the Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ) which extends all the way from the middle to the bottom of the North Island. In the past 2 million years, some 25 mega-volcanic eruptions have been reported. The nearest active volcano is located in Whakaari. This is a small volcano that runs along the east coast of the island some 30 miles away.
The satellite images that were of major concern to Hamling were maps of rising earth levels at Matata, accompanied by increased ground tremors in the region over a 60 year period.
Matata itself is a small town of a mere 650 people. It’s been the site of many very small earthquakes most likely due to tectonic shifts and active seismic activity in the region. Fortunately, Hamling and his colleagues concluded that the magma chamber is unlikely to turn into an active volcano. The main reason cited was the fact that the magma is located some 6 miles beneath the surface.
This is not the first time however that large magma build-up has been found in New Zealand, and Hamling’s colleagues don’t seem too concerned just yet. Earlier, geophysicist Prof. Pritchard, from Cornell University discovered many similar incidents of magma build-up in the Andes mountain range which didn’t result in any nearby volcanic eruptions.
Still, the magma build-up does come as a surprise to scientists, and further monitoring of the region will continue.
Study Source: Science Advances