'Mud volcano' near Gisborne generating huge interest among science community

It would look more at home in Rotorua, but a "mud volcano" near Gisborne is causing huge interest among the science community.

The phenomenon is discharging cold sludge over around a hectare of farmland in the Waimata Valley, submerging trees.

Highly explosive gas continues to make the soft centre bubble more than a month after it blew.

However, Dr Murray Cave from Gisborne District Council says they still don’t know a lot about it.

"We are still trying to figure out exactly what they are, we have a good idea that the material that comes up, comes up from very deep in the earth's crust," Dr Cave told 1 NEWS.

It's estimated it erupted for nearly five hours in December, spewing 10,000 cubic metres of sticky mud across the farm.

Dr Cave believes the eruption could have been triggered by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake which hit the region in September 2016.

"There was lots of cracks and ruptures right here where this mud volcano erupted so there is that association with earthquake activity."

The region has 15 known mud volcanos, with some close to homes. It’s hoped information gathered from this eruption can be applied to the rest.

"We are hoping that that type precursor movement that happened from the earthquake two years ago gives us more of a warning of what can happen here so we can address this issues before they happen," Dr Cave said.

GNS are also involved in the study which is believed to be the first documentation of a mud volcano from its beginning.

They also believe it could tell them more about the Hikurangi subduction zone, New Zealand's largest fault line, that runs off the East Coast.

For now, the public is being urged to stay away from the area, as the volcano could erupt again.

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It’s been bubbling away since early December and could provide clues about our biggest fault line. Source: 1 NEWS