Regional | Lake Rotorua

Hidden hydrothermal system discovered at Lake Rotorua

Two Māori engineering students are mapping a civil defence plan to safeguard over 50 Te Arawa marae

Lake Rotorua has undergone its first detailed mapping, which has revealed a concealed hydrothermal system, and a large magnetic anomaly in the southern part of the lake.

The lake rests at the core of an immense ancient crater from a dormant volcano.

Project leader Cornel de Ronde says this revelation opens doors for potential opportunities, particularly in geothermal energy.

“Geothermal energy in New Zealand has predominantly been linked to extensive geothermal plants such as Wairakei and Ohaaki,” Ronde says.

“However, these newly discovered elements, though smaller in scale, possess significant energy potential. It requires a shift in mindset to determine whether harnessing this resource for smaller geothermal projects aligns with community preferences.”

The two Māori PhD engineering students are creating a civil defence plan to safeguard over 50 Te Arawa Marae.

“We are very fortunate to have Sonny and Haukapuanui Vercos emerge as leaders to work for the safety of the marae in this region,” Rotorua Lakes Trust deputy chair Rangitihi Pene says.

“They’ve discussed the nature of this discovery and the potential problems that may arise and solutions to address them.”

The uncovered hydrothermal system presents the prospect for iwi to consider developing a smaller-scale geothermal power scheme, challenging the conventional association of geothermal energy in New Zealand with larger plants.

Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) affirms that this breakthrough substantiates, for the first time, the extension of Rotorua’s mainland hydrothermal systems into the hidden depths of the lake.