Natural Hazards

Volcanic Hazards

Auckland is vulnerable to volcanic eruptions. Much of Auckland is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF), which covers 360km2 and contains at least 50 volcanoes. None of these existing volcanoes are expected to erupt again. The next eruption will be in a new, unknown location.

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The health hazards of volcanic ash - A guide for the public.

Guidelines on preparedness before, during and after an ashfall.

Coastal Erosion

Cliff failure can occur in a number of ways from slumping to large block failures. The coastal cliffs in Auckland are slowly eroding. Cliffs on Auckland’s East Coast are most susceptible, eroding at a rate of approximately 2-6m per century. This has been the case for the past 6-10,000 years.

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Climate is changing. Future changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables will alter Auckland's soil moisture and mean sea level. Some locations will be more susceptible to floods and droughts.

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Severe Weather

Five tropical cyclones have passed within 220km of Auckland City between 1970 and 2001.

The main hazards associated with tropical cyclones are wind gusts and heavy rainfall, but they can also generate significant storm surge and coastal erosion.

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Drought occurs due to a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more. Drought can be defined in various ways. An 'agricultural drought' is a period when the soil is estimated to be 'moisture deficit'. A significant agricultural drought can impact on Auckland's agricultural and horticultural industries. A 'hydrological drought' is when the effects of low precipitation affect hydrological systems. A hydrological drought can result in a water supply shortage, although storage capacity and demand are also important factors.

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Although the Auckland region lies in one of the lowest earthquake activity regions of New Zealand, earthquakes of varying magnitude are likely to occur at some stage in the future. The extent of this damage will depend on the ground conditions of a particular site, building and infrastructure condition, response and recovery plans, and the community awareness of what to do.

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Urban Fire
Every year Auckland has between 5000-6000 urban fires that require response from emergency services, and cause 10-15 fatalities. These are predominantly from house and industrial fires.

In the Auckland region there is a small risk of wildfire in the forested areas to the west (Waitakere Ranges), south (Hunua Ranges), northwest (Woodhill Forest), north (Mahurangi Forest) and east (Gulf Islands).
Fires in these areas can result from agricultural burn-off getting out of control, arson, careless actions (e.g. camp fires in restricted areas), or natural causes such as lightning strikes. Weather plays a significant factor - the risk of fire increases in prolonged drought conditions.

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In the Auckland region, most flooding events are of short duration and affect relatively localised areas.

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Land instability

Erosion and slope failure is common throughout the Auckland region. Land instability is often made worse by human activities.

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Tornados frequently occur in Auckland but Auckland’s tornados are much smaller than the very large ones that occur in the midwest of the United States.

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Tsunami may be tens of metres in height in shallow water, however most tsunami are less than 1m in height at the shore. Historical information suggests that the most likely hazardous tsunami event for the Auckland region is likely to be caused by an earthquake off the west coast of Chile.

To understand how a tsunami wave is formed using a wave tank click here.

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