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Report on Rumble III (New Zealand) — July 1986

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 7 (July 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rumble III (New Zealand) Submarine activity discolors water; hydrophone noise

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Rumble III (New Zealand). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198607-241130.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Rumble III

New Zealand

35.745°S, 178.478°E; summit elev. -220 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


The New Zealand Defence Scientific Establishment reported that hydrophones detected noise of probable volcanic origin, peaking on 15-16 June. About 1 July, hydrophones on Great Barrier Island, ~290 km SW of Rumble III, recorded noise of possible volcanic origin, but detected no activity by 13 July.

On 13-14 July, a Japanese fishing boat reported cream-colored steam rising from the ocean at 35.74°S, 178.49°E, and observed a 500 m2 sulfur slick. No explosions were reported. The New Zealand Meteorological office reported a satellite-derived sea surface temperature anomaly of possibly +2°C in the area 10-14 July.

On an overflight 5 August, Royal New Zealand Air Force observers saw a circular patch of discolored blue water ~40 m across, thought to be a zone of gas-rich water. The discolored water repeatedly vanished and reformed, then dispersed 4-6 km SW. Sonar buoys dropped into the area detected bubbling noises, but no low-frequency or pulsing noises.

Personnel on the HMNZS Tui examined the area of the volcano during the night or 7-8 August between 2300 and 0500. The sea was calm with no discoloration, sulfur smell, or steam. They found a minimum depth of 150 m [but see 15:03], and samples were dredged from ~300 m.

Geologic Background. The Rumble III seamount, the largest of the Rumbles group of submarine volcanoes along the South Kermadec Ridge, rises 2300 m from the sea floor to within about 200 m of the sea surface. Collapse of the edifice produced a horseshoe-shaped caldera breached to the west and a large debris-avalanche deposit. Fresh-looking andesitic rocks have been dredged from the summit and basaltic lava from its flanks. Rumble III has been the source of several submarine eruptions detected by hydrophone signals.

Information Contacts: J. Latter, DSIR Geophysics, Wellington; L. Hall, Defence Scientific Establishment, Auckland.