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Volcanic Unrest at Taupō Volcano in 2019: Causes, Mechanisms and Implications

Illsley‐Kemp, Finnigan and Barker, Simon J. and Wilson, Colin J. N. and Chamberlain, Calum J. and Hreinsdóttir, Sigrún and Ellis, Susan and Hamling, Ian J. and Savage, Martha K. and Mestel, Eleanor R. H. and Wadsworth, Fabian B. (2021) 'Volcanic Unrest at Taupō Volcano in 2019: Causes, Mechanisms and Implications.', Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 22 (6).


Taupō volcano, New Zealand, is a large caldera volcano that has been highly active through the Holocene. It most recently erupted ∼1,800 years ago but there have been multiple periods of historic volcanic unrest. We use seismological and geodetic analysis to show that in 2019 Taupō underwent a period of unrest characterized by increased seismic activity through multiple swarms and was accompanied by ground deformation within the caldera. The earthquakes, which include non-double-couple events, serve to outline an aseismic zone beneath the most recent eruptive vents. This aseismic zone is coincident with an inflating source, based on forward modeling of ground deformation data. We infer that this aseismic and deforming region delineates the location of the present day magma reservoir that is ≥250 km3 in volume and has a melt fraction of >20%–30%, inhibiting seismic activity. Our analysis shows that the 2019 unrest at Taupō was volcanic in nature and origin, demonstrating that this is an active and potentially hazardous volcano, and that improving our monitoring and understanding of its behavior is important.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date accepted:01 June 2021
Date deposited:01 September 2021
Date of first online publication:23 June 2021
Date first made open access:01 September 2021

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