Fires could pose bigger threat than lava following volcanic eruption in Auckland

A new study has revealed how an eruption in Tāmaki Makaurau could destroy a wider area than first thought - due to fire.

The research by Kiwi and international scientists concludes that hot rocks flung from a volcano may cause blazes that could destroy six times the area razed by an eruption.

However, that's only under extreme wind conditions.

Dr Josh Hayes, natural hazard and risk scientist at GNS, said scientists wanted to figure out if fire risk from eruptions is something we should pay more attention to.

"Our model suggests that it would take relatively rare strong winds before substantial fire would spread to areas that the volcano would not have already affected anyway."

The study published in the Fire Safety Journal this week looked at how far fires could spread if sparked by an eruption in Auckland Volcanic Zone.

Professor Susanna Jenkins, from Nanyang Technological University, said while the research is a good first step, it's only preliminary.

"This study, focusing on a high-impact scenario, serves as an important foundation for future work," she said.

"Our next steps include broadening our assessment to various volcanic hazards, exploring fire suppression strategies, and delving deeper into the interplay between volcanic hazards  and material ignition." 

GNS staff monitor the Auckland Volcanic Field 24 hours a day, through GeoNet.