20 Jul 2011

NZ's GNS Science looking to help Tonga with earthquake monitoring

8:42 pm on 20 July 2011

The head of volcanology at GNS Science says it's hoping to extend more help to Tonga with monitoring and interpreting seismic data.

Dr Gill Jolly was a member of a recent New Zealand delegation to Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Niue.

Dr Jolly says GNS has a five year-New Zealand aid-sponsored project to help Vanuatu enhance the capability and capacity of its geohazards department.

She says without similar improvements in Tonga, where there's frequent seismic and volcanic activity, there's the risk of an eruption going unreported and creating a flight hazard.

"One thing that we might be able to set up with the support of the New Zealand government is some sort of peer support so if they see some activity, they're not sure what's happening, they can call us and we can actually have a look at the data, they can send us the data and we can help them interpret it."

Dr Gill Jolly says the tsunami warning generated by the recent earthquake off the Kermadec Islands highlighted the need for Tonga to be able to get advice on when to evacuate.