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Auckland, the largest and most populous city of New Zealand, straddles a volcanic field that contains no less than 50 volcanoes. These volcanoes have produced about 90 eruptions in the last 90,000 years, and there is no telling when the next eruption will occur. The city is literally a hot spot fed by a plume of hot magma rising up out of the mantle, hundred kilometres below the Earth’s surface. Every few hundred or thousand years, a batch of magma forces its way up towards a weak place in the Earth’s crust right under Auckland and produces a cone, a crater or a lagoon. The last time it did, about 600 years ago, it produced the 6-km-wide Rangitoto Island and destroyed the Māori settlements on neighbouring Motutapu Island.

Auckland is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. And this is no small city – Auckland is home to 1.4 million residents, or nearly one-third of the country's population. If an eruption were to occur, which it most certainly will, and if the city is still there on this site, the damage to Auckland will be unspeakable.


Mount Wellington, a 135 metre volcanic peak, located 10 kilometres southeast of the city centre. Photo credit: GNS Science

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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