Development of a volcanic hazard model for New Zealand

First approaches from the methods of probabilistic seismic hazard analysis

  • M.W. Stirling GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • C. J. N. Wilson Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Taupo, New Zealand


We commence development of a volcanic hazard model for New Zealand by applying the well- established methods of probabilistic seismic hazard analysis to volcanoes. As part of this work we use seismologically-based methods to develop eruption volume - frequency distributions for the Okataina and Taupo volcanoes of the central Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Our procedure is to use the geologic and historical record of large eruptions (erupted magma volumes ≥ 0.01 cubic km for Taupo and ≥ 0.5 cubic km for Okataina) to construct eruption volume-frequency distributions for the two volcanoes. The two volcanoes show log-log distributions of decreasing frequency as a function of eruption volume, analogous to the shape of earthquake magnitude-frequency distributions constructed from seismicity catalogues. On the basis of these eruption volume-frequency distributions we estimate the maximum eruption volumes that Taupo and Okataina are capable of producing at probability levels of relevance to engineers and planners. We find that a maximum eruption volume of 0.1 cubic km is expected from Taupo with a 10% probability in 50 years, while Okataina may not produce a large eruption at this probability level. However, at the more conservative 2% probability in 50 years, both volcanoes are expected to produce large eruptions (0.5 cubic km for Okataina and 1 cubic km for Taupo). Our study therefore shows significant differences in eruption probabilities for volcanoes in the same physiographic region, and therefore highlights the importance of establishing unique eruption databases for all volcanoes in a hazard analysis.


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How to Cite
Stirling, M., & Wilson, C. J. N. (2002). Development of a volcanic hazard model for New Zealand. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 35(4), 266-277.