One of the good things about living in Palmerston North is that the RSNZ run an e-mail announcement service. Anyone can sign up to receive it, and they use it to advertise what their own meetings are about, and they also include anything of scientific interest for the general public in our area.
This week they advertised the geological society meeting, which I managed to get to after negotiating a rabbit warren at Massey. It was the "President's lecture", which Nick Mortimer, current president of GSNZ, is touring with, and was about "Cenozoic volcanoes of the SW Pacific."
It was really interesting, and not too technical for a geological hobo like myself. In my NZ fauna paper last year we had learned about how quite a large mass had rifted off Gondwanaland to drift away, largely sink, and end up as New Zealand. Nick had some wonderful satellite images that in effect stripped the sea away so you could see some undersea depths, and the extent of the "Zelandia" land mass was clear. Fascinating.
I hadn't quite realised how geologically distinct the northern and southern parts of NZ were/are geologically. A key factor in this was a basaltic land mass that got itself jammed up against the east coast, stopping subduction further south, while allowing rifting up north. So basins and volcanic arcs formed in the north, but not in the south. (Subduction has since resumed in the south, as the basalt has cooled in more recent times.)
It was a fascinating talk. Thanks to Nick and the Geological Society!