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Hochstetter Lecture

The Hochstetter Lecture is named in honour of Ferdinand von Hochstetter (see below) and a speaker is chosen annually by the Awards Subcommittee. He or she gives a lecture at GSNZ branches during the year on recently completed and largely unpublished findings, and must have a reputation as a good speaker. Send your 2017 nomination to the Awards committee now!

A list of previous Hochstetter Lecturers can be found on the Awards page here.

Video of some ot the lectures can be found below soon.

Colin WilsonThe 2016 Hochstetter Lecturer is Colin Wilson.

Colin is a volcanologist who began his career in physical volcanology, but has since strayed into the black arts of petrology and geochemistry. His research is mostly concerned with studying the products of large-scale explosive silicic volcanism, particularly ignimbrites. Trained at Imperial College in the UK, Colin has a long history of work in New Zealand, and is currently Professor of Volcanology at Victoria University of Wellington.

Colin will be touring the country during the year and at University centres the Hochstetter and a Supplementary lecture are given. The itinenary below is being worked on and will be finalised soon.


Hochstetter Lecture

"The forensics of volcanic catastrophe - how to study large explosive eruptions"

Erupting volcanoes are one of the great natural sights on the planet. There are, however, volcanoes on Earth which produce eruptions of such a size and violence (supereruptions at one extreme) that if you can see the volcano erupting you will die. Apart from being somewhat career-limiting, the chances of making useful observations are almost nil. Thus, what we understand about such eruptions and their parent volcanoes has to be gained from studying the products of past events, in a geological form of forensic science. In this talk, I outline the ways in which insights into large explosive eruptions can be gained from studying rocks in the field, then applying a variety of analytical techniques down to the microscopic scale. The information that is gained provides unprecedented details into eruptive processes, but suggests that we are still a long way from having a clear picture of how big eruptions and their parental volcanoes operate.

 Supplementary Lecture (University centres)

"The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, Yellowstone: new insights into old deposits".

The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff is the product of the first great explosive eruptions from the iconic supervolcano at Yellowstone about 2.07 million years ago. Mapped and described by previous workers, this deposit has been part of the geological understanding of the Yellowstone system for many decades. There are, however, many aspects of the deposit and its parental eruption that are un-documented and challenging to understand. In this talk, I will present a series of snapshots of work carried out by me and my collaborators. I will show how you can take an iconic, apparently well-known deposit and uncover new insights about its causative eruption and the parental sub-surface magma chamber.


Branch / CentreDate
Email contacts
Auckland16th August
Waikato18th August
Taupo11th August
20th October
18th October


3rd NovemberEmail:
Wellington 27th July
7th November
Nelson2nd August
22nd September
Canterbury20th SeptemberEmail:






About Hochstetter by Mike Johnston

Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829-1884)

Hochstetter was born in Esslingen in the Kingdom of Wrttemberg (southern Germany) and joined the Austrian Geological Survey in 1853. Four years later he was appointed geologist on the Austrian frigate Novara that undertook a global scientific cruise. The Novara berthed in Auckland, then the capital of New Zealand, on 22 December 1858. At the request of the New Zealand Government and supported by the Auckland Provincial Council, Hochstetter, accompanied by Julius Haast and others, surveyed the Drury Coal Field to the south of the capital.

This was accomplished so successfully that the provincial council persuaded the commander of the Novara to allow Hochstetter to remain in New Zealand so that he could undertake further work in the province. Over the next five months Hochstetter and Haast, and a support team, visited much of southern part of Auckland Province, including the volcanic region and the gold diggings at Coromandel Harbour.

On completion of his Auckland mapping, Hochstetter was commissioned by the Nelson Provincial Council to report on the mineral wealth of the province. Hochstetter, accompanied by Haast, arrived in Nelson, after brief stops at New Plymouth and Wellington, on 4 August 1859. In Nelson, they examined Dun Mountain, and from which he collected and subsequently named dunite, the Aorere Gold Field and other places of interest. While Hochstetter visited the Wangapeka Gold Field in the west and Lake Roto-it, Haast geologically examined the eastern part of the province . Hochstetter left Nelson for Sydney on 1 October 1859, on the first leg of his return voyage to Europe.

His geological maps of Auckland and Nelson were the first of their kind in New Zealand

Website editor's note: the "o" in Hochstetter definitely does not carry an umlaut ()

Previous Hochstetter Lectures - audio and video are not studio quality!

Nick Mortimer 2015

Hochstetter Lecture: "Zealandia - Earth's 8th continent" here. Supplementary lecture: "Litho2014: a New Zealand stratigraphy for everyone" here.