The 'zombie volcano' growing beneath New Zealand: Geologists discover massive magma chamber under North Island


Scientists say they have discovered a magma buildup near a small town in New Zealand that explains a spate of recent earthquakes and could signal the beginnings of a new volcano, says DailyMail.

Thankfully for the 650 inhabitants of Matata, the coastal town near the magma buildup, they are not expecting an eruption anytime soon.

The researchers, from GNS Science, said that since 1950, enough magma to fill 80,000 Olympic-size swimming pools has squeezed up beneath the surface.

The research was published in Science Advances and explains that while other parts of New Zealand have active volcanoes, there have been none near Matata for at least 400,000 years.

The team used GPS data and satellite images, which allowed them to discover that an area of land about 154 square miles (400 square kilometres) had risen 40 centimetres (16 inches) since 1950.

Additionally, they found that there was increase in inflation rate from 2003 to 2011, triggering thousands of small earthquakes in the area. 

Previously it had been thought that the earthquakes were caused by tectonic shifts. 

The magma is about 6 miles (10 kilometres) below the surface, which is deep enough to assume that a volcano is unlikely to form for hundreds or even thousands of years. 

Otherwise, the magma could cool and harden, preventing further development of a volcano.

While most of the measurements could be made on land, just over half of the area studied is offshore, meaning the researchers had to rely on inferences from what happened on the land to gauge the changes underwater.

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