Volcanic Unrest at Taupō Volcano in 2019: Causes, Mechanisms and Implications
journal contributionposted on 2021-12-06, 07:25 authored by Finnigan Illsley-KempFinnigan Illsley-Kemp, Simon BarkerSimon Barker, Colin WilsonColin Wilson, Calum ChamberlainCalum Chamberlain, S Hreinsdóttir, S Ellis, IJ Hamling, Martha SavageMartha Savage, Eleanor MestelEleanor Mestel, FB Wadsworth
Taupō volcano, New Zealand, is a large caldera volcano that has been highly active through the Holocene. It most recently erupted ∼1,800 years ago but there have been multiple periods of historic volcanic unrest. We use seismological and geodetic analysis to show that in 2019 Taupō underwent a period of unrest characterized by increased seismic activity through multiple swarms and was accompanied by ground deformation within the caldera. The earthquakes, which include non-double-couple events, serve to outline an aseismic zone beneath the most recent eruptive vents. This aseismic zone is coincident with an inflating source, based on forward modeling of ground deformation data. We infer that this aseismic and deforming region delineates the location of the present day magma reservoir that is ≥250 km3 in volume and has a melt fraction of >20%–30%, inhibiting seismic activity. Our analysis shows that the 2019 unrest at Taupō was volcanic in nature and origin, demonstrating that this is an active and potentially hazardous volcano, and that improving our monitoring and understanding of its behavior is important.