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Structural and Hydrothermal Inferences from a Magnetotelluric Survey across Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-09, 01:27 authored by Dravitzki, Stacey Maree

This thesis explains the electrical conductivity structure of Mt. Ruapehu. To identify hydrothermal or volcanic components of the volcano, data from 25 magnetotelluric sites are analyzed. Data collected are first analyzed in the time domain prior to conversion into the frequency domain. Here, data are remote referenced, and the impedance tensors, tippers, apparent resistivity and phase values are calculated. These components are then analyzed to identify major features within the data. The new phase tensor ellipse method is applied to identify influential features and determine the dimensionality of data. This analysis indicates where it is appropriate to apply 1 or 2 dimensional inversion schemes. Dimensionality analysis led to 1-D modelling of the determinant impedance at each site; and limited 2-D profiles across the Tongariro Volcanic Centre boundaries. These models are used to create a simple 3-D structural model of the volcano that is then forward modelled. The results of the 3-D forward modelling indicate that the dominating features of the volcano's electrical structure have been identified in the previous models. Crater Lake is the only possible hydrothermal system on Mt. Ruapehu identified in this study. It is also very unlikely that any large coherent bodies of magma exist in the near surface. However, a second thin conductor laying somewhere between 10 and 30 km deep beneath the eastern flank may contain 13% melt and is the probable driving heat force beneath the volcano. The structure of Mt. Ruapehu can be split into seven layers. A resistive surface layer (100 ohm m) of young volcanic debris within the Tongariro Volcanic Centre that is up to 500 m thick near the crater.  A conductive layer (10 - 30 ohm m) of wet, fractured and altered volcanic debris underlaying the younger debris throughout the Tongariro Volcanic Centre.  A layer of Tertiary sediment under the Tongariro Volcanic Centre that extends to the south and west. This layer is electrically indistinguishable from the previous layer and extends to approximately sea level. A resistive layer (400 ohm m), and consistent with greywacke basement covers the entire field area.  A second conductive layer (20 ohm m) is identified under the eastern flank of the volcano somewhere between the depths of 10 and 30 km. This layer is likely to be the heat and magma source driving the volcanic activity.  A surrounding resistive layer extends beyond and below the second conductive layer mentioned above. This surrounding layer is electrically similar to the greywacke above.  A very high resistivity layer (7000 ohm m) is identified below 80 km deep, and may be associated with the land/sea boundary or subduction zone to the east.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Ingham, Malcom