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ARTICLE

Types of volcanic rock

Rocks are not all the same. Some are heavy, some are light. Others are dark, while some can be almost pure white. Even igneous rocks that are all formed from magma in the Earth’s mantle can look ...

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ARTICLE

Plate tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes

The Earth rumbles and a hiss of steam issues from the top of Mt Ruapehu. Are these two events related? Is the earthquake caused by the volcano? Or is the steam caused by the earthquake? Tectonic ...

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ARTICLE

Seismic waves

When an earthquake occurs, the shockwaves of released energy that shake the Earth and temporarily turn soft deposits, such as clay, into jelly (liquefaction) are called seismic waves, from the ...

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ARTICLE

Behaviour of waves

All waves behave in certain characteristic ways. They can undergo refraction, reflection, interference and diffraction. These basic properties define the behaviour of a wave – anything that ...

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Under the Earth’s surface

The Earth is an enormous place. There is so much that we don’t yet know about what happens on the surface of the Earth, so how could we possibly know about what happens deep down below the ...

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Limestone uses

The calcium carbonate content of limestone rocks has been used from the earliest civilisations, dating back to 14,000 BCE, to its extensive use in modern times. It is a valuable resource that ...

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ARTICLE

Plate tectonics

We can blame plate tectonics for many catastrophes over time – earthquakes, volcanoes, geothermal activity, tsunamis and landslides – while people living on mountain ranges or small islands can ...

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ARTICLE

Liquefaction

Liquefaction is a process that temporarily turns firm ground into a liquid. During the Canterbury earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011, liquefaction caused silt and fine sand to boil ...

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ARTICLE

Types of volcanoes

Everyone knows what a volcano looks like – isn’t it a steep-sided cone with wisps of ash coming from the top, just like Rangitoto, White Island, Mt Ngāuruhoe or Mt Ruapehu? But what about small ...

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ARTICLE

The Alpine Fault

In the South Island of New Zealand, the boundary between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates can be seen on land. This is unlike the North Island boundary, where a subduction zone is under ...

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ARTICLE

Auckland’s volcanoes

The city of Auckland is built on a volcanic field. There are 50 volcanoes within an area of 1,000 square kilometres, forming the hills, lakes and basins of the city. Rangitoto Island was formed ...

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ARTICLE

Magma on the move

The high temperatures (900°C) and extremely high pressures that occur in the mantle layer of the Earth are enough to melt rock. The high pressure changes the rock into a viscous semisolid called ...

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ARTICLE

Limestone landscapes

Limestone is one of the most common sedimentary rocks found in New Zealand. Eye-catching features such as caves, sinkholes and spectacular skyline landscapes are often associated with limestone ...

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ARTICLE

The moving Earth

Isn’t it funny to think that the Earth is moving! If we stand perfectly still and look into the distance, the Earth appears to be perfectly still, too. But the Earth is actually moving in many ...

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Earthquakes and volcanoes

We live in a very exciting country. A day’s drive in a car can take us from snowy mountains, past geysers and hot mud pools to white, sandy Pacific beaches. Have you ever wondered why New Zealand ...

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ARTICLE

Volcanology methods

Scientists use a range of different methods to learn more about volcanoes. A volcanologist may start by conducting fieldwork, collecting rocks and samples, and then move into the lab to undertake ...

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ACTIVITY

Tectonic jigsaw puzzles

In this activity, students turn a map of the Earth into puzzle pieces to investigate tectonic plates. By the end of this activity, students should be able to: demonstrate how the tectonic plates ...

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Reading rock core samples

One important question that the scientists like Dr Phil Shane at The University of Auckland are asking is: “When did the volcanoes in Auckland last erupt?” Answering this question will help them ...

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Inside the Earth

What is happening inside this 12,700 km diameter ball we call the Earth? Some of the Earth’s internal architecture is an 'educated guess' (mainly from seismology), because the longest drill we ...

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Seismic engineering

Seismic engineering is a branch of engineering that searches for ways to make structures, such as buildings and bridges, resistant to earthquake damage. Seismic engineers aim to develop building ...

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ARTICLE

Canterbury earthquakes

An earthquake near Christchurch in September 2010 started a chain of events still being felt over 2 years later. It caused extensive damage to property, and aftershocks also caused injury and ...

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ARTICLE

Comparing tsunamis and surf

So you want to surf a tsunami? In this article, you’ll learn why that’s not possible – and how dangerous it would be to try. Tsunamis have much more energy than a surf wave, so they last for ...

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