A new state-of-the-art centre will keep a constant watch on New Zealand's biggest geological threats.

The National Geohazards Monitoring Centre, based at GNS Science's Lower Hutt campus, will be manned 24 hours a day by a team of geohazard analysts.

The centre would provide monitoring and advisory services for tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides – making it the first in the world to oversee all four hazards at once.

It was designed to be resilient, with GNS' Wairakei site, near Taupō, acting as a back-up.


New Zealand's position on the boundary of two ever-grinding tectonic plates made it one of the most vulnerable places on the planet to natural disasters.

Each year, GeoNet picked up some 15,000 earthquakes across the country's volcanic zones and myriad faults – all of which were overshadowed by the looming threat of a major rupture on the South Island's Alpine Fault, or in the Hikurangi Subduction Zone off the East Coast.

"When a serious event happens, every second counts," GNS Science chief executive Ian Simpson said.

"It's not an exaggeration to say this new centre could save lives, and I'm really thrilled to see it open today."

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods saw GNS Science as the perfect host for the centre, as it could rapidly interpret geological events.

The new centre meant staff would immediately assess them, from the moment they began.

"This is more efficient than the previous system, which relied on automated messages to on-call staff, providing improvements in situational awareness and response times, alongside other service enhancements."

Associate Professor Thomas Wilson, of the University of Canterbury, said 2016's 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake had come with many lessons – particularly around delivering faster and more "joined-up" warnings.


"This centre addresses a big part of that lesson, and so this represents a really tangible way that New Zealand has improved its geohazard warnings and broader disaster resilience efforts," Wilson said.

"I think it will also keep New Zealand in line with leading global technological developments in geohazard monitoring and hopefully meet our community's appetites for prompt and effective warnings."