Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — 10 August-16 August 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 August 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 August 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
GeoNet reported that the temperature of Ruapehu’s summit Crater Lake had been declining since May. During an overflight on 10 August scientists recorded gas emissions at typical low background levels. The next day the lake water temperature was 12.6ºC, one of the lowest temperatures since the 1995/1996 eruptions. The lake was a dark green, overflowing, and sulfur slicks outlined areas of upwelling. A strong sulfur odor was noted near the lake. The level of volcanic tremor which was at moderate levels during May-June had declined to typical background levels. The Volcanic Alert Level was lowered to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) and the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Green.
Geologic Background. Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is a complex stratovolcano constructed during at least four cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The 110 km3 dominantly andesitic volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit on the NW flank. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. A single historically active vent, Crater Lake, is located in the broad summit region, but at least five other vents on the summit and flank have been active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred in historical time from the Crater Lake vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as early as 3000 years ago. Lahars produced by phreatic eruptions from the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and to lower river valleys.