Curtis Island

Photo of this volcano
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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 30.542°S
  • 178.561°W

  • 137 m
    449 ft

  • 242010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

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

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

Index of Monthly Reports

Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

02/2009 (BGVN 34:02) Acoustic data indicates possible nearby volcanic activity

Contents of Monthly Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.

All times are local (= UTC + 12 hours)

02/2009 (BGVN 34:02) Acoustic data indicates possible nearby volcanic activity

Olivier Hyvernaud reported that recent T-phase waves, recorded by the Laboratoire de Géophysique in Tahiti, originated from near Curtis Island (figure 1) and had waveforms suggesting a volcanic origin. The first of these hydroacoustic waves recorded on the Polynesian seismic network were a brief swarm of seven short strong events on 17 January 2009. On that day the network received the signals between 1706 and 1717 UTC. In addition, a single event was received 19 January 2009 at 0753 UTC. The best preliminary location for these events was 30.49°S, 178.55°W, a position 5-6 km NNE of Curtis Island and well within the area of the larger caldera structure.

Figure 1. Satellite imagery showing Curtis and Cheeseman Islands (inset) along the Kermadec Island chain north of New Zealand. Curtis Island is approximately 900 km NE of New Zealand. Volcano locations from GVP database. Inset map image acquired 10-11 May 2006 by DigitalGlobe. Imagery courtesy of Google Earth.

On the New Zealand GNS Science website there is a brief discussion and two photos of Curtis Island, noting a short visit there, thermal activity, nearby mineral-rich volcanoes, and that it lies adjacent to a chain of submarine volcanoes (eg. Smith, 1988). They also stated "The benefit in studying this remote outcrop is the insight it gives into the composition of these underwater vents, while being relatively straightforward to measure in comparison."

On 1 April 2009 Brad Scott (GNS) added that they were not aware of any activity at this time. The island is remote and GNS personnel do not visit on a regular basis. The activity on the island is solfataric. He also noted that the island is composed of pyroclastic-flow (ignimbrites) deposits from an unknown nearby source.

No thermal alerts have been measured by the MODVOLC system for Curtis Island since at least the beginning of 2004 and through 1 April 2009.

References. Smith, I., 1988, The geochemistry of rock and water samples from Curtis Island volcano, Kermadec group, southwest Pacific: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 34, no. 3-4, p. 233-240.

Information Contacts: GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL:; Olivier Hyvernaud, Laboratoire de Géophysique, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA/DASE/LDG), PO Box 640, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia (Email:; Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL:

Curtis and nearby Cheeseman Islands are the uplifted portion of a submarine volcano astride the Kermadec Ridge. The age of the small islands is considered to be Pleistocene, and rocks consist dominantly, if not entirely, of andesitic pyroclastic-flow deposits (Lloyd, 1992). Curtis Island, only 500 x 800 m in diameter and 137-m high, contains a large, fumarolically active crater whose floor is only 10 m above sea level. Reports of possible historical eruptions probably represent increased thermal activity. Geologic studies have documented a remarkable uplift of 18 m of Curtis Island during the past 200 years, with 7 m of uplift occurring between 1929 and 1964 (Doyle et al., 1979). An active submarine magmatic or solfataric vent is believed to exist near Curtis Island, but its activity cannot unequivocally be associated with the volcano (Lloyd, 1992).

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 2009 Jan 18 ] [ 2009 Jan 19 ] Uncertain 0   5-6 km NNE of Curtis Island
[ 1936 Jun 18 ] [ 1936 Dec ] Uncertain    
[ 1899 ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    

The Global Volcanism Program has no synonyms or subfeatures listed for Curtis Island.

Flat-topped 137-m-high Curtis Island, seen here from the north, is, along with nearby Cheeseman Island, the uplifted portion of a submarine volcano astride the Kermadec Ridge. The small Pleistocene islands consist mostly of andesitic pyroclastic-flow deposits. Reports of possible historical eruptions probably represent increased thermal activity from a shallow crater near sea level. Geologic studies have documented a remarkable uplift of 18 m of Curtis Island during the past 200 years.

Photo by Owen Calder, 2004

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Doyle A C, Singleton R J, Yaldwyn J C, 1979. Volcanic activity and recent uplift on Curtis and Cheeseman Islands, Kermadec group, southwest Pacific. J Roy Soc New Zeal, 9: 123-140.

Latter J H, Lloyd E F, Smith I E M, Nathan S, 1992. Volcanic hazards in the Kermadec Islands, and at submarine volcanoes between southern Tonga and New Zealand. New Zeal Ministry Civil Defense, Volc Hazards Inf Ser, 4: 1-45.

Lloyd E F, 1991. Curtis volcano, Kermadec Group, a review and reinterpretation. Volc Seism, 1991(1): 117-121 (English translation 1992, 13: 128-134).

Lloyd E F, Nathan S, 1981. Geology and tephrochronology of Raoul Island, Kermadec Group, New Zealand. New Zeal Geol Surv Bull, 95: 1-102.

Richard J J, 1962. Kermadec, Tonga and Samoa. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 13: 1-38.

Volcano Types


Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Rock Types

Andesite / Basaltic Andesite


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

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Curtis 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).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.