Geological hazards

NIWA studies marine geological hazards, including earthquakes, submarine landslides and tsunami, volcanic eruptions, seafloor scour, sediment transport and shallow gas.

Tonga eruption and tsunami shock the world - Vimeo
The Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai (HT-HH) volcano was like a massive shotgun blast from the deep, generating the biggest atmospheric explosion recorded on Earth in more than 100 years. Funded by The Nippon Foundation, NIWA and SEA-KIT surveyed over 22,000km2 surrounding the volcano, including mapping 14,000km2 of previously unmapped seafloor as part of The Nippon Foundation GEBCO Seabed 2030 project.

  • Kaikōura Canyon

    Our team of researchers have recently returned from a voyage onboard RV Tangaroa to retrieve moorings deployed to collect sediment samples from the Kaikōura Canyon.
  • Underwater robot getting close-up look at Kaikōura Canyon

    Media release
    A six-metre long orange underwater robot is flying through the Kaikōura Canyon for the next month collecting information on how the canyon has changed since the 2016 earthquake.
  • New tsunami monitoring system for Pacific

    Feature story
    A network of state-of-the-art tsunami buoys is being deployed from New Zealand up into the Pacific to keep communities safer.
  • Tsunami evacuation zones home to 1 in 10 New Zealanders

    Media release
    NIWA scientists have completed the first national assessment of people and buildings at risk in New Zealand’s tsunami evacuation zones.
  • A flair for finding gas bubble flares

    NIWA marine geologist Arne Pallentin is looking for telltale gas bubble 'flares"—using a multibeam echosounder—that indicate new volcanic activity in the Calypso Vent Field.
  • Using sound to see what's happening geologically

    Marine geologist - Dr Joshu Mountjoy - is mapping the seafloor landscape around Whakaari/White Island to understand how much sediment was dislodged in the eruption and where it has gone.
  • What's in a bubble?

    Marine Geophysicist Sally Watson, maps the seafloor and takes samples from the water column so we can understand geological processes shaping the volcanic underwater realm around Whakaari/White Island.
  • RV Tangaroa multibeam

    2020 - Bay of Plenty acoustics

    During the TAN2007 voyage NIWA scientists headed to the waters around Whakaari/White Island in the Bay of Plenty to survey changes to the seafloor since the volcanic eruption in December 2019.
  • NIWA mapping seafloor around Whakaari/White Island

    Media release
    NIWA scientists are heading to the waters around Whakaari/White Island in the Bay of Plenty next week to survey changes to the seafloor.
  • Scientists get first look at rocks causing slow moving quakes

    Media release
    An ambitious international scientific project to study New Zealand’s largest earthquake fault is now enabling scientists to learn more about slow slip earthquakes happening in subduction zones around the world.
  • Scientist pieces together details of underwater landslides

    Media release
    New information about landslides that occur on the seafloor off New Zealand’s east coast will help scientists better understand why and where they happen, and the types of threats they pose.
  • Methane seep research bubbling along

    Media release
    A chance discovery off the Gisborne coast five years ago is prompting a NIWA scientist to find out more about the link between a field of methane seeps bubbling out of the sea floor and submarine landslides.