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The Life and Times of Supervolcanoes | Whakatāne

Thurs 23 Aug
2018 NZ Rutherford Lecture
Presented in partnership with GNS Science, EQC and Victoria University of Wellington

Pu'u o'o vent, Kīlauea volcano, Hawaiian Islands

The Life and Times of Supervolcanoes

There is no denying that as New Zealand sits astride the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates our land is subject to tremendous natural forces. We may commonly experience this as a gentle but sometimes a severe shuddering of earthquakes. Yet with Aotearoa dotted with cones and calderas, Kiwis should also keep in mind that the Taupō Eruption was actually the world’s most violent volcanic eruption in the last 5000 years!

Colin Wilson has gathered many accolades for studying volcanoes, and in particular, those giant examples known as supervolcanoes. He likens his work to that of a crime scene investigator, where he travels the world piecing together the dual puzzle of why such cataclysmic explosions occur and why they are joined by much smaller eruptions. He aims to forecast volcanic phenomena with enough warning so that communities can respond. But although Colin is digging deep in the Earth’s crust to find the triggering mechanisms, volcanic systems are not letting their secrets go easily…

Royal Society Te Apārangi is proud to partner with GNS Science, EQC and Victoria University of Wellington in presenting the 2018 New Zealand Rutherford Lecture. Strong support from these organisations comes from the belief that New Zealanders will greatly benefit both from learning about and gaining a better awareness of this ‘sleeping’ giant in our midst. From late July to early September, Professor Wilson will head to 22 towns and cities to explain the nature of supervolcanoes, the ways in which such volcanoes operate and can be studied, and whether the next eruption is still likely to take us by surprise.

About the speaker

Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ, Victoria University of Wellington

In 2017, geologist Professor Colin Wilson was awarded Royal Society Te Apārangi’s highest honour, the Rutherford Medal, for his research into understanding large, explosive supervolcanoes and the dangers they pose. Yet although significant eruptions are still rare, threats from volcanic activity are considered a very serious natural hazard for Aotearoa New Zealand.

The 2018 New Zealand Rutherford Lecture is proudly presented by Royal Society Te Apārangi in partnership with GNS Science, EQC and Victoria University of Wellington.

These talks are free to attend and you are welcome to turn up on the day, however, due to their expected popularity, tguarantee your seat(s) please register by following the booking links

Views that are expressed at this event may not reflect those of Royal Society Te Apārangi.


Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ

The Life and Times of Supervolcanoes


Royal Society Te Apārangi


Whakatāne Little Theatre Short Street, Whakatāne, Bay of Plenty 3120

5:30pm Thu 23 August, 2018 - 6:30pm Thu 23 August, 2018