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Huge build-up of magma beneath New Zealand could be almost as devastating as Yellowstone


According to scientists, an enormous pool of magma beneath New Zealand could cause a lot of damage one day.

Experts have revealed that enough magma to fill 80,000 Olympic-size swimming pools is sitting beneath a small town to the South-East of Auckland.

Molten lava beneath Matata – which has just 650 inhabitants – has been building up since the 1950s.

Dr Ian Hamling, from GNS Science and lead author of the study published in Science Advances, said the discovery “was quite a big surprise”.

In their study, they add that it is extremely unusual for magma to collect in an area where there is no volcano.

The magma is at least six miles beneath the surface of coastal town Matata, leaving scientists confident that it will not erupt for hundreds and potentially thousands of years, but warned that it could be a “significant” eruption when it does finally blow.

Dr Hamling continued: “When you compare it to other places, like Yellowstone, we’re smaller than that. But it’s still pretty significant.”

If Yellowstone were to erupt, it could leave two-thirds of the USA immediately uninhabitable as the large spew of ash into the atmosphere would block out sunlight and directly affecting life beneath it.

While it is not expected that this magma will cause such devastation, the impact would still be difficult to cope with.

However, in the short run, Dr Hamling and his team hope to use the newly discovered magma deposit to help predict earthquakes.

By using GPS data and satellite images, the team were able to discover a 154 square mile patch of land which had risen by 16 inches since 1950 due to the presence of magma.

Furthermore, they believe that the build-up of magma could be responsible for a spate of small earthquakes between 2003 and 2011 as the amount of magma suddenly increased during this time.


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