Volcanology Research

Volcanology studies the processes occurring on and underneath volcanoes to inform volcanic hazard assessments and risk evaluations and emergency management planning. We aim to develop and integrate ongoing scientific advancements in volcanology within practical risk-management strategies in New Zealand and Southwest Pacific communities, business enterprises and government agencies.

Our expertise

Probabilistic hazard forecasting

We combine records of volcanic events from detailed physical volcanology and geochemical studies with innovative statistical techniques to develop time-varying volcanic hazard forecasts.

Volcanic mass flows

Our volcanic mass flows research involves computational modelling and simulations, developing new tools and techniques to measure the physical properties and provide warnings of moving mass flows, as well as detailed sedimentological studies of mass flows.

Petrology and geochemistry

We combine studies of volcanic rocks, from their structure and origin to their unique chemical signatures, with physical volcanology to give insights into the processes driving volcanic eruptions.

Impacts of volcanism

Based on our scientific discoveries, we model the economic impacts of volcanism and the impacts on lifelines infrastructure, as well as the impacts on human health and agriculture.

Emergency management and community hazards education and planning

We specialise in participatory methods and risk perception research, and the development of scenarios and training tools.

Volcanic Risk Solutions

Volcanic Risk Solutions is Massey's multidisciplinary centre for applied volcanic hazard and risk managment research.

Working with iwi

Dr Jonathan Procter (Muaupoko, Ngai Tahu) and Dr Tai Black are leading work on the NZ Natural Hazards Platform with Landcare and Ngāti Rangi at Ohakune. Māori communities at risk will benefit from improved monitoring, planning and managing of risk from natural hazards.

For more information about our research activity, select individual researchers' names below.


Warnings for lahars on Mt. Ruapehu

Eruptions and non-eruptive collapses around Ruapehu’s crater and lake produce destructive lahars. Lahar warnings have previously relied on earthquake detection (seismic) methods, but agencies including DOC, Horizons Regional Council, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, Transit New Zealand, Genesis Energy and Ontrack needed an improved warning system so they could quickly close roads, shut down power plants and electrical transmission, and evacuate people from the mountain.

Professor Shane Cronin and his team developed and tested a range of geophysical tools for observing and detecting lahars in motion at Ruapehu, and in Indonesia and Mexico. They designed a monitoring system that used a range of methods including seismic and pressure sensors, sonar and ultrasonic stage gauges to measure river levels, geophones and cameras.

This was installed along the Whangaehu River at Ruapehu, and the agencies now have a robust warning system of improved quality and enhanced design standards.

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