Exploring the influence of vent location and eruption style on tephra fall hazard from the Okataina Volcanic Centre, New Zealand

  • Mary Anne Thompson
  • Jan M. Lindsay
  • Laura Sandri
  • Sébastien Biass
  • Costanza Bonadonna
  • Gill Jolly
  • Warner Marzocchi
Research Article


Uncertainties in modelling volcanic hazards are often amplified in geographically large systems which have a diverse eruption history that comprises variable eruption styles from many different vent locations. The ~700 km2 Okataina Volcanic Centre (OVC) is a caldera complex in New Zealand which has displayed a range of eruption styles and compositions over its current phase of activity (26 ka–present), including one basaltic maar-forming eruption, one basaltic Plinian eruption and nine rhyolitic Plinian eruptions. All three of these eruption styles occurred within the past 3.5 ky, and any of these styles could occur in the event of a future eruption. The location of a future eruption is also unknown. Future vents could potentially open in one of three different areas which have been activated in the past 26 ky at the OVC: the Tarawera linear vent zone (LVZ) (five eruptions), the Haroharo LVZ (five eruptions) or outside of these LVZs (one eruption). A future rhyolitic or basaltic Plinian eruption from the OVC is likely to generate widespread tephra fall in loads that will cause significant disruption and have severe socio-economic impacts. Past OVC tephra hazard studies have focused on evaluating hazard from a rhyolitic Plinian eruption at select vent locations in the OVC’s Tarawera LVZ. Here, we expand upon past studies by evaluating tephra hazard for all possible OVC eruption vent areas and for both rhyolitic and basaltic Plinian eruption styles, and explore how these parameters influence tephra hazard forecasts. Probabilistic volcanic hazard model BET_VH and advection–diffusion model TEPHRA2 were used to assess the hazard of accumulating ≥10 kg m−2 of tephra from both basaltic Plinian and rhyolitic Plinian eruption styles, occurring from within the Tarawera LVZ, the Haroharo LVZ or other potential vent areas within the caldera. Our results highlight the importance of considering all the potential vent locations of a volcanic system, in order to capture the full eruption catalogue in analyses (e.g. 11 eruptions over 26 ky for the OVC versus only five eruptions over 26 ky for the Tarawera LVZ), as well as the full spatial distribution of tephra hazard. Although the Tarawera LVZ has been prominently discussed in studies of OVC hazard because of its recent activity (1886 and ~1315 ad), we find that in the event of a future eruption, the estimated likelihood of a vent opening within the Haroharo LVZ (last eruption 5.6 ka) is equivalent (<1 % difference) to that for the Tarawera LVZ (31.8 compared to 32.5 %). Including both the Haroharo LVZ and the Tarawera LVZ as possible source areas in the hazard analysis allows us to assess the full spatial extent of OVC tephra fall hazard. By considering both basaltic Plinian and rhyolitic Plinian eruption styles, as well as multiple vent location areas, we present a hazard assessment which aims to reduce bias through incorporating a greater range of eruption variables.


PVHA Okataina Volcanic Centre BET_VH TEPHRA2 Volcanic hazard Hazard analysis Tephra 



The authors would like to thank all those who participated in the expert elicitation session. They also thank M Bebbington and two anonymous reviewers for their comments which helped improve the quality of this manuscript, P Shane for valuable discussions about the OVC, N Le Corvec and M Runge for assistance with MATLAB coding, and the University of Geneva for access to computational facilities. MAT acknowledges support from The University of Auckland with thanks. JML gratefully acknowledges support from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Anne Thompson
    • 1
  • Jan M. Lindsay
    • 1
  • Laura Sandri
    • 2
  • Sébastien Biass
    • 3
  • Costanza Bonadonna
    • 3
  • Gill Jolly
    • 4
  • Warner Marzocchi
    • 5
  1. 1.School of EnvironmentThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Section of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.GNS Science, Wairakei Research CentreTaupoNew Zealand
  5. 5.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Roma 1RomeItaly

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