Here's the town that has a new volcano forming under it
Saturday, June 4, 2016, 7:02 PM - People in the New Zealand town of Matata finally have a scientific explanation for a swarm of small quakes afflicting the region.
It turns out, the quakes, most of which have been relatively weak at between Magnitude 2.0 and 4.0, don't portend a major quake. They're evidence of a previously unknown magma chamber.
"During this period molten or semi-molten rock was being pushed up from below and caused land around Matata to uplift by about 1 cm a year," a release from the country's GNS Science institute says. "As the magma moves in the sub-surface, it causes the surrounding rock to deform and break, resulting in small earthquakes."
The chamber is around 9 km beneath the surface, and since 1950 has slowly filled with enough magma to to fill 80,000 Olympic swimming pools, the scientists say. They reached their conclusions based on data gathered by satellite, GPS and area surveys.
It can't be encouraging to find out your town is situated atop what, for all intents and purposes, is a burgeoning volcano. However, the scientists say that not only is an eruption not imminent, the region's volcanic hazard hasn't changed.
In fact, Ian Hamling, the study's lead author, says magma concentrations aren't uncommon beneath that part of New Zealand, such that the presence of the newly discovered chamber was "not a huge surprise."
"There is every possibility the magma body under the Bay of Plenty Coast had been there for centuries, and possibly even longer," he said.
New Zealand is no stranger to geological disasters. The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake killed more than 250 people, while the more recent 2011 Christchurch tremor left an estimated 185 dead.
In terms of volcanoes, the 1886 eruption of Mt. Tarawera destroyed several villages and killed around 120 people.
"While there is absolutely no evidence pointing to volcanic unrest in coastal Bay of Plenty, this finding underlines the fact we live in a geologically active country where it pays to be prepared," Hamling says.
The scientists' study was published in on June 3 in the journal Science Advances.