New map shows NZ's super volcanoes

Seven years of fieldwork by a group of geologists culminated this week with the publishing of a new geological map covering the wider Rotorua area from Tauranga eastwards to Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty and southwards into the western Waikato and northern Hawke's Bay regions.

The geologists spent hundreds of days in the field clambering over difficult terrain - tramping and travelling to hard-to-reach areas by four-wheel drive, helicopter, jet boat, and even on horseback. They have been mapping, sampling and recording information on rock types and other geological features.    

Publication of the Rotorua geological map has been led by Dr Graham Leonard and Dr John Begg of GNS Science and marks the end of one of the most comprehensive projects in the organisation's national mapping programme - called QMAP (quarter-million scale map).

The map has also had major input from co-compiler, Professor Colin Wilson at Victoria University of Wellington.

The map replaces existing geological maps of the area, published in the 1960s. It shows Taupo Volcanic Zone and Te Urewera geology in more detail than ever before, has been generated from a computer database using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. This means it can be updated regularly as new information comes to hand.

The book and map explore fracturing and folding in these ancient sediments and how this tells the story of a New Zealand that has formed both mountain ranges and ocean bottom over the more than 150 million years.

Hundreds of geothermal hotsprings, geysers and mudpools, a major attraction for international tourists and a taonga of local Iwi, are shown on the map. A number of the key geothermal drill holes are also shown as well as the locations of the seven renewable energy power plants that generate 13 percent of New Zealand's electricity. This figure is set to increase as more geothermal developments come on stream.

The map area covers the iconic volcanoes of Taupo, Rotorua, Tarawera, Edgecumbe and White Island with full details of their eruptive past.

The map and text are available from GNS Science ( for $35 plus postage and packaging.

Photo below: Professor Colin Wilson, Dr John Begg and Dr Graham Leonard with the new booklet and map.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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