Taranaki is the most likely New Zealand volcano to cause national-scale impacts over our lifetimes. Positioned upwind from our most populous regions of Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, all Taranaki eruptions will disrupt air and surface transport, tourism, farming, power and water supplies.
This volcano has a 50% probability of erupting over the next 50 years. Yet the dormancy since Taranaki’s last eruption (~AD1790) is one of its longest. Thus we have no modern experience of its typically very long eruptions.
Past research shows that once Mt. Taranaki starts erupting, it continues for years, decades, or centuries. A recent estimate of the net losses in economic activity from a brief Mt. Taranaki eruption (considering only a subset of potential impacts) is crudely estimated at ~NZ$1.7-4.0 billion of GDP per year, or ~NZ$13-26 billion, for a decade of volcanism. Our research will build and test the geological, engineering and socioeconomic knowledge essential for the New Zealand economy to transition through such an unprecedented level of on-going disruption.
Using a novel integration of volcanic scientific knowledge, experimentation and advanced mathematical and economic simulation, we aim to radically cut down uncertainty that hinders decisive hazard and mitigation planning for transitioning to a new state of ongoing hazard.
We will demonstrate how robust decisions can be made across space, through time, for multiple stakeholders. In this way we will also discover how to transform New Zealand in the face of continuous change. This requires developing an integrated quantitative understanding of volcanism in order to confidently forecast the volcanic impacts over timeframes suited to socio-economic decision-making.