Taupo Volcano


Lake Taupo photographed from space ( NASA photo )

The Taupo is a 300,000 -year-old super volcano in New Zealand. He has been active since its formation in irregular intervals and is considered the most active and productive rhyolite volcano in the world.


The volcano can be seen today not as right as a volcano or a mountain, but there in the northern half of Lake Taupo below the lake, such as geological studies have found. The Taupo is part of a line extending in the North Island of New Zealand in a northeasterly direction warp, which is known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Volcanic activity

The continental crust, which normally has a thickness of 35 km on average, has tapers below the Taupo Volcanic Zone over millions of years to an average of around 15 km. Due to the tectonic processes of the North Island - the Pacific plate slides under the Australian plate - it came along the Taupo Volcanic Zone in fractures in the crust and the formation of numerous volcanic vents where magma could ascend. However, the resulting so to around 300,000 years Taupo volcano is one of the volcanoes that erupt less frequently, but then develop large, explosive and especially destructive eruptions.

Ōruanui Eruption

One of these huge eruptions of Taupo was the Ōruanui eruption that took place 26,500 years ago. The case ejected and distributed over a large area material ( pumice and volcanic ash ) kept the volume of three times the size of Mount Ruapehu with nearly 1,200 km3. Other sources specify this in 430 km3 of rock and ash precipitation, 320 km3 of pyroclastic flows into the surrounding countryside and 420 km3 of material that went down inside the caldera. At the end of the eruption, the magma chamber beneath the volcano collapsed, resulting in a caldera formed by a reduction of approximately 500 meters. This caldera was later to the northern part of Lake Taupo. This was followed by 28 additional more or less large outbreaks in the last 23,000 years. These and the Ōruanui outbreak have the Lake Taupo and the landscape significantly influenced around him.

Hatepe Eruption

The last of these eruptions took place a little over 1,830 years and was probably the world's most violent volcanic eruption of the past 5,000 years. With a discharge amount of 50 to 60 km3 he devastated an area in New Zealand, which now houses more than 200,000 people live. The rain of ash covered all of New Zealand with a minimum of 1 cm thick carpet and could be the exceptionally red sunsets caused in China and Europe, which have been observed and documented by the Romans and Chinese at that time.

The volcano today

The Taupo is now one of the twelve classified as hazardous and constantly monitored volcanoes in New Zealand. The constant monitoring of seismic activity, changes in the sea bed, the water level and water quality provide important information on the potential hazards caused by volcanic activity, because the magma chamber of the volcano is only 6-8 km below the lake.

Lake Taupo

When exactly the caldera was filled up with water and led to the formation of Lake Taupo, is not known. What is certain is that the caldera had changed by the numerous large eruptions during the past 23,000 years and led to a further increase in the surrounding area. But the 3,487 km2 large catchment area of ​​the caldera extending toward rivers filled the sink with water that eventually the modern city of Taupo a breakthrough to the north is created that keeps the water level of the lake to its present state. At this breakthrough, the Huka Falls, which, with a height of around 11 meters today an attraction for tourists and white-water enthusiasts formed.