Mayor Island

Photo of this volcano
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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 37.28°S
  • 176.25°E

  • 355 m
    1164 ft

  • 241021
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Mayor Island.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Mayor Island.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Mayor Island.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



5060 BCE

355 m / 1164 ft


Volcano Types

Lava dome(s)
Pyroclastic cone(s)

Rock Types


Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

The small 4-km-wide Mayor Island, also known as Tuhua, in the Bay of Plenty is the emergent portion of a 15-km-wide compound peralkaline lava shield constructed between about 120,000 and 35,000 years ago. A 3-km-wide composite caldera was formed in two or three collapse events, the last of which took place about 6300 years ago, and was accompanied by a plinian eruption that produced tephra deposits up to 70 cm thick on mainland North Island. Post-caldera eruptions generated a series of lava domes and flows emplaced from NNE-trending vents within the caldera that have filled it to depths of at least 180 m. The latest eruption of Mayor Island has not been dated, but was considered by Houghton et al. (1992) to perhaps have occurred only 500-1000 years ago.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Buck M D, 1985. An assessment of volcanic risk on and from Mayor Island, New Zealand. New Zeal J Geol Geophys, 28: 283-298.

Buck M D, Briggs R M, Nelson C S, 1981. Pyroclastic deposits and volcanic history of Mayor Island. New Zeal J Geol Geophys, 24: 449-468.

Ewart A, Taylor S R, Capp A C, 1968. Geochemistry of the pantellerites of Mayor Island, New Zealand. Contr Mineral Petr, 17: 116-140.

Gottsmann J, Dingwell D B, 2002. The thermal history of a spatterfed lava flow: the 8-ka pantellerite flow of Mayor Island, New Zealand. Bull Volc, 64: 410-422.

Houghton B F, Weaver S D, Wilson C J N, Lanphere M A, 1992. Evolution of a Quaternary peralkaline volcano: Mayor Island, New Zealand. J Volc Geotherm Res, 51: 217-236.

Houghton B F, Wilson C J N, 1986. Explosive rhyolite volcanism: the case studies of Mayor Island and Taupo volcanoes (Tour Guide A1). New Zeal Geol Surv Rec, 12: 33-100.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Lowe D J, Shane P A R, Allowayc B V, Newnham R M, 2008. Fingerprints and age models for widespread New Zealand tephra marker beds erupted since 30,000 years ago: a framework for NZ-INTIMATE. Quat Sci Rev,.

Shane P, Sikes E L, Guilderson T P, 2006. Tephra beds in deep-sea cores off northern New Zealand: implications for the history of Taupo Volcanic Zone, Mayor Island and White Island volcanoes. J Volc Geotherm Res, 154: 276-290.

Stevenson R J, Briggs R M, Hodder A P W, 1993. Emplacement history of a low-viscosity, fountain-fed pantelleritic lava flow. J Volc Geotherm Res, 57: 39-56.

Wilson C J N, Houghton B F, Pillans B J, Weaver S D, 1995. Taupo Volcanic Zone calc-alkaline tephras on the peralkaline Mayor Island volcano, New Zealand: identification and uses as marker horizons. J Volc Geotherm Res, 69: 303-311.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
5060 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) South end of caldera, Taratimi Bay
6050 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) SE caldera rim

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.




Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Oira Pyroclastic cone
Opo Bay Tuff cone
Orongatea Pyroclastic cone
Oturu Pyroclastic cone
Ruamata Pyroclastic cone
Taratimi Tuff ring
Te Ananui Tuff ring
Te Araaka Tuff ring
Te Horo Tuff ring
Te Kukuta Vent
Te Paritu Vent


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Tarewakoura Dome

Photo Gallery

The caldera wall seen here is the northern and eastern portion of the youngest Mayor Island caldera, which formed about 6300 years ago. The 2.2 x 2.5 km caldera floor is covered by young lava flows, the latest of which may have been erupted only about 500-1000 years ago.

Photo by Jim Cole (University of Canterbury).
The caldera wall at the upper right was created during the youngest caldera-forming eruption of Mayor Island about 6300 years ago. Major explosive eruptions at this time produced more than 1 cu km of tephra, which fell across the Bay of Plenty on North Island. The 2.2 x 2.5 km wide caldera was subsequently partially filled by lava flows and domes, the latest of which may have been erupted as recently as 500-1000 years ago.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1986 (U.S. Geological Survey).
Mayor Island, in the Bay of Plenty, is seen here from the west. The low, 4-km-wide island, also known as Tuhua, is the summit of a broad, 15-km-wide lava shield. A 3-km-wide caldera formed during 2 or 3 collapse events, the latest of which followed a major explosive eruption about 6300 years ago. Mayor Island was recognized as an active volcano only within the past two decades. Its latest eruption may have occurred only 500-1000 years ago.

Photo by Malcolm Buck, 1980.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 7 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 116210-1 Obsidian
NMNH 116210-2 Obsidian
NMNH 116210-3 Obsidian
NMNH 116418-5 Welded tuff
NMNH 116418-6 Welded tuff
NMNH 116418-7 Welded tuff
NMNH 116418-8 Welded tuff

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Mayor Island Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.