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Land and Resources, Geology

Pacific plate, Southern Alps, volcanic activity, Lake Taupo, seismic activity

New Zealand is located within the Ring of Fire, a region encircling the Pacific Ocean where the movement of tectonic plates (huge segments of Earthís crust) leads to volcanic and seismic activity. The Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates meet at New Zealand, but their movements are significantly different under the two main islands. At the South Island the plates converge in a mostly lateral, or sideways, movement. This created the Southern Alps by uplifting and folding oceanic sediment. At the North Island, however, the Pacific plate is folding under the other plate. This subduction has forced volcanic activity to the surface. Scientific evidence shows that the North Island has had a number of huge volcanic eruptions over the last 30,000 years. Two huge eruptions 26,000 years ago and nearly 1,000 years ago created the deep crater that is now Lake Taupo; the latter eruption is considered to be one of the largest in history. Volcanic activity continues today in the islandís central region. Geysers and hot springs (signs of geothermal activity) are also found throughout the region, and earthquakes are frequent but generally moderate.

Article key phrases:

Pacific plate, Southern Alps, volcanic activity, Lake Taupo, seismic activity, main islands, subduction, hot springs, Geysers, earthquakes, Pacific Ocean, uplifting, North Island, South Island, Scientific evidence, movements, surface, New Zealand, history, years


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