Zombie volcano grows beneath New Zealand

June 7, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

According to experts, there is a zombie volcano beneath New Zealand. Geologists are surprised by their discovery because the so-called zombie volcano, which is a really a massive magma chamber, is in an odd spot; it is sitting next to some of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes instead of being underneath them.

zombie volcano beneath New Zealand

A zombie volcano beneath New Zealand is making news due to its location. Last week, a group of geologists published a report that revealed the surprising discovery, a massive magma build-up underneath Matata, a tiny town near Auckland, in New Zealand.

The paper was published Saturday in the online journal, Science Advances. The experts believe that the magma chamber will eventually give birth to a new volcano. While the geologists are used to discovering volcanoes in that area, they were baffled by the fact that the magma chamber is being born not under the country’s most active volcanoes, but off to one side.

The scientists nicknamed the massive magma buildup “zombie volcanoes” because they show no sign of life. Geophysicist Ian Hamling, from the GNS Science in Lower Hutt, New Zealand said they found an incredible influx of magma as they were:

“…using radar satellites to study the Taupo Volcanic Zone when they noticed an abnormal patch of magma that appeared to be rising. After sorting through previous data, Hamling figured out that the area has actually been slowly rising since the 1950s. During its peak growth, 9 million cubic meters of magma were bubbling into the chamber every year.”

Hamling further explained:

“Calculations suggest that about 9 million cubic metres of magma — 3,600 Olympic swimming pools’ worth — pushed into the crust each year during peak growth. The molten rock would have gathered in a chamber about 10 kilometres below the surface. When you compare it to other places, like Yellowstone, we’re smaller than that. But it’s still pretty significant.”

Mr. Hamling went to reassure New Zealanders that an eruption is not imminent. He said:

“There’s no need to panic, but chances are there are lots of bodies of magma dotted throughout the crust.”

The geologists wrote in their paper that they expect to find more zombie volcanoes now that the radar satellites are becoming more advanced.

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