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Report on Monowai (New Zealand) — January 2007


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 32, no. 1 (January 2007)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Monowai (New Zealand) Elevated number of T-waves during 2005-6

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2007. Report on Monowai (New Zealand) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 32:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200701-242050


New Zealand

25.887°S, 177.188°W; summit elev. -132 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

According to Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud (affiliates of Laboratoire de Geophysique, in Saint Martin d' Heres, France), activity at Monowai from 2005-2006 was remarkable because of the more than 1,650 events recorded as hydroacoustic waves (also called T-phase waves or T-waves) on the Polynesian Seismic Network (Réseau Sismique Polynésien, or RSP). Such waves are generated by submarine earthquakes and/or volcanic eruptions that can be monitored at great distances via seismic stations close to the shore and/or by hydrophones. The amplitudes of T-waves are related to the strength or intensity of submarine volcanism at the seamount.

The T-wave activity after 2002 appeared in two main stages (figure 17). The initial stage extended from early 2003 to August 2004, followed by a period of repose that lasted until March 2005. A second stage of T-wave activity then continued until July 2006, followed by another six months of quiet. Reymond and Hyvernaud noted that individual T-wave swarms typically had durations varying between 1 day and 3 weeks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Cumulative number of events recorded by the RSP for Monowai from 1 November 2002 to 31 December 2006. Courtesy of Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud.

It appears that another cycle started 12 December 2006 (figure 17), continuing at least until the end of the month. The average number of events from the end of 2002 until the end of 2006 was about 950 per year. In the last two years (2005-2006), a slightly lower rate of 825 events per year was measured (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Cumulative number of T-waves at Monowai recorded by the RSP over the period 2005-2006, with dates indicating the start and end of each swarm. The duration of the swarms varied between 1 day and 3 weeks. Courtesy of Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud.

The amplitudes of T-waves recorded during 2005-2006 at the TVO seismic station in Tahiti never reached 1/3 of the amplitude that was recorded on 24 May 2002. It was that day when amplitudes of 350 nm were reached (figure 19). The average values for T-wave amplitudes during the period shown in figure 19 are in the 5-50 nm range.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Amplitude (in nanometers of ground motion) for Monowai T-waves recorded at the TVO station over the last 4 years (2002-2006). While the average values are in the range of 5- 50 nm, only one exceptional value of 350 nm was recorded on 24 May 2002 (BGVN 27:05). Courtesy of Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud.

Geological Summary. Monowai, also known as Orion seamount, is a basaltic stratovolcano that rises from a depth of about 1,500 to within 100 m of the ocean surface about halfway between the Kermadec and Tonga island groups, at the southern end of the Tonga Ridge. Small cones occur on the N and W flanks, and an 8.5 x 11 km submarine caldera with a depth of more than 1,500 m lies to the NNE. Numerous eruptions have been identified using submarine acoustic signals since it was first recognized as a volcano in 1977. A shoal that had been reported in 1944 may have been a pumice raft or water disturbance due to degassing. Surface observations have included water discoloration, vigorous gas bubbling, and areas of upwelling water, sometimes accompanied by rumbling noises. It was named for one of the New Zealand Navy bathymetric survey ships that documented its morphology.

Information Contacts: Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud, Laboratoire de Géophysique, Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique, CEA/DASE/LDG, PO Box 640, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.