Science

New Zealand volcano: Could New Zealand earthquake trigger MORE eruptions?


New Zealand was struck by a magnitude-5.3 earthquake less than a day after the terrifying eruption of the White Island volcano which claimed the lives of at least five people. The tremor struck almost 17 miles south of Gisborne, a city on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, at 12.58pm local time on Tuesday (11.58pm GMT on Monday). GeoNet, a Kiwi geological hazards monitoring service, said thousands of people felt and reported information on the quake.

GeoNet tweeted: “Over 18,000 people have filled in a felt report for this quake.

“This M5.3 East Coast earthquake did not generate a tsunami.”

Farther north across New Zealand and into the Bay of Plenty, the Whakaari, or White Island, volcano, 48 kilometres (30 miles) away from the Bay of Plenty, on the north island’s east coast, began erupting at around 2.15pm local time on Monday, sending a plume of ash and debris 3,657 metres above the mainland.

The eruption killed at least six people, with a further eight still missing.

Can New Zealand expect more volcanic tragedy on the back of the latest tremor?

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has said that on occasion, earthquake activity can trigger an eruption.

However, it is likely that the latest quake was not powerful enough to do so.

The USGS said: “A few large regional earthquakes (greater than magnitude 6) are considered to be related to a subsequent eruption or to some type of unrest at a nearby volcano.

“However, volcanoes can only be triggered into eruption by nearby tectonic earthquakes if they are already poised to erupt.

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The Ring of Fire is the largest and most active fault line in the world, stretching from New Zealand, around the east coast of Asia, over to Canada and the USA and all the way down to the southern tip of South America and causes more than 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes.

The plates which make up the Ring of Fire are so huge even the slightest shift results in massive tremors, volcano activity and tsunamis.

Robin George Andrews, a doctor of experimental volcanology and science journalist, wrote for Forbes: “Well, it is related to the Ring of Fire in that this volcano sits on it.

“This term describes a conveniently shaped network of major tectonic boundaries that are continuously shifting around in very complex ways.

“Thanks to these behaviours, this network is responsible for 75 percent of the world’s volcanic activity, or thereabouts (and a staggering 90 percent of the planet’s earthquakes).

“The underlying causes may be similar, but any eruptions that occur here happen independently of each other.”



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