Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 507–515 | Cite as

Developing probabilistic eruption forecasts for dormant volcanoes: a case study from Mt Taranaki, New Zealand

  • Michael B. TurnerEmail author
  • Shane J. Cronin
  • Mark S. Bebbington
  • Thomas Platz
Research Article


The majority of continental arc volcanoes go through decades or centuries of inactivity, thus, communities become inured to their threat. Here we demonstrate a method to quantify hazard from sporadically active volcanoes and to develop probabilistic eruption forecasts. We compiled an eruption-event record for the last c. 9,500 years at Mt Taranaki, New Zealand through detailed radiocarbon dating of recent deposits and a sediment core from a nearby lake. This is the highest-precision record ever collected from the volcano, but it still probably underestimates the frequency of eruptions, which will only be better approximated by adding data from more sediment core sites in different tephra-dispersal directions. A mixture of Weibull distributions provided the best fit to the inter-event period data for the 123 events. Depending on which date is accepted for the last event, the mixture-of-Weibulls model probability is at least 0.37–0.48 for a new eruption from Mt Taranaki in the next 50 years. A polymodal distribution of inter-event periods indicates that a range of nested processes control eruption recurrence at this type of arc volcano. These could possibly be related by further statistical analysis to intrinsic factors such as step-wise processes of magma rise, assembly and storage.


Eruption record Volcanic hazards Probabilistic eruption forecasting Weibull renewal model Holocene Mt Taranaki/Egmont New Zealand 



SJC and MB are supported by the NZ Foundation for Research Science and Technology contract MAUX401. MT and TP thank the Massey Doctoral Scholarship Committee and the George Mason Trust. We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Rumball for access to Lake Umutekai and Ms. S. Grant for laboratory assistance. We thank reviewers J. Eliasson, A. Belusov and editor J. White for their helpful and constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael B. Turner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shane J. Cronin
    • 1
  • Mark S. Bebbington
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Platz
    • 1
  1. 1.Volcanic Risk Solutions, Institute of Natural ResourcesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of Information Sciences and TechnologyMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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