Okataina

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 38.12°S
  • 176.5°E

  • 1111 m
    3644 ft

  • 241050
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Weekly Report: 15 June-21 June 2016 Citation IconCite this Report


GeoNet reported that the Mud Rift feature at Okataina's Waimangu Geothermal area erupted during 17-20 May, the first time since 1989. The Mud Rift geothermal vent formed in 1906 in the Raupo Pond Crater (one of multiple craters which formed in June 1886) and is 36 m long, 5-6 m wide, and 15 m deep. The steam-driven events mostly ejected fine sand and mud, and there was abundant evidence of fluids flooding into the rift, especially at the W end. Nearby vegetation was brown, and there was some evidence of collapse around the edges of the vents.

Source: GeoNet


Most Recent Bulletin Report: November 1987 (SEAN 12:11) Citation IconCite this Report


Tectonic seismic swarm; no co-seismic deformation

A short but intense sequence of earthquakes occurred in the Lake Rotomahana area of the [Tarawera] rift on 16 November. The largest event (ML 3.8) occurred at 1835, in the middle of the sequence; events continued until about 2000. A geodetic survey of the Lake Rotomahana strain monitoring pattern was completed ~20 minutes before the earthquake sequence commenced. Selected stations were reoccupied three days later but no significant co-seismic deformation was detected. All the earthquakes appeared to be of tectonic origin. Similar swarms were recorded 22-23 February 1986 and in February 1983.

The 17-km-long Tarawera Rift was the site of a vigorous eruption in 1886 that ejected ~0.7 km3 of basaltic magma in ~4 hours (Nairn and others, 1986); large phreatic explosions occurred from Lake Rotomahana, which has grown substantially since that eruption. Phreatic explosions have been recorded [16] times between 1896 and 1973 in the [Waimangu] thermal area to the SW, along the rift.

Reference. Nairn, I.A., Cole, J.W., Houghton, B.F., and Wilson, C.J.N., 1986, Tarawera 1886 eruption: International Volcanological Congress Handbook, 1-9 February 1986, p. 111-121.

Information Contacts: B. Scott, NZGS Rotorua; S. Sherburn, DSIR Geophysics, Wairakei.

Weekly Reports - Index


2016: June


15 June-21 June 2016 Citation IconCite this Report


GeoNet reported that the Mud Rift feature at Okataina's Waimangu Geothermal area erupted during 17-20 May, the first time since 1989. The Mud Rift geothermal vent formed in 1906 in the Raupo Pond Crater (one of multiple craters which formed in June 1886) and is 36 m long, 5-6 m wide, and 15 m deep. The steam-driven events mostly ejected fine sand and mud, and there was abundant evidence of fluids flooding into the rift, especially at the W end. Nearby vegetation was brown, and there was some evidence of collapse around the edges of the vents.

Source: GeoNet


Bulletin Reports - Index


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

11/1982 (SEAN 07:11) Shallow earthquakes; no volcanic tremor

11/1987 (SEAN 12:11) Tectonic seismic swarm; no co-seismic deformation




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


November 1982 (SEAN 07:11) Citation IconCite this Report


Shallow earthquakes; no volcanic tremor

A series of shallow earthquakes occurred 23-29 September a few kilometers SE of Haroharo Dome, in the Okataina Volcanic Center (figure 1). The main earthquake was at 1423 on 23 September. A foreshock preceded it by about 3 minutes, and three of the four large aftershocks followed at 1429, 1440, and 1452 (table 1). Many other aftershocks were recorded, the last at 0530 on 29 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Map showing the Haroharo Volcanic Complex and part of the Tarawera Volcano in the Okataina Volcanic Center. From Cole and Nairn (1975).

Table 1. Earthquakes of M > 2.5 recorded in the Okataina Volcanic Center during 23-29 September 1982.

[Skip text table]
    1982      Time    Magnitude

    23 Sep    1420     [3.3]
              1423      4.1
              1429      2.6
              1440      3.2
              1452     [2.9]
    27 Sep    1806     [2.7]

I.A. Nairn, working on the N side of Tarawera Volcano (~11 km S of the epicenters) on 23 September, felt shocks and heard rockfalls nearby. He estimated the Modified Mercalli intensities of the foreshock and main shock as IV, and of the aftershocks at 1440 and 1452 at III-IV. He described the ground vibrations as low-frequency but relatively large-amplitude. Other nearby NZGS personnel noted the relatively low frequency of the felt shocks compared to typical local felt earthquakes. Observers noted that although they did not feel the shocks strongly outdoors, houses and vehicles resonated to large-amplitude vibrations. A small seiche was recorded on the N side of Lake Tarawera (7-8 km SW of the events). Three tilt networks around Tarawera Volcano showed no significant changes.

J.H. Latter placed the hypocenter for the 27 September event [at 38.129°S, 176.531°E, figure 1] about 5 km SE of Haroharo Dome at a depth of about 2 km. Nairn reported that this location coincides with a small area of surface faulting and geothermal activity. The 23 September earthquakes could not be located because of the lack of any nearby seismic records, but epicenters were estimated to be within 6 km of the 27 September event. Latter noted that the slow propagation of energy from the earthquakes and the low frequency of the felt shocks might suggest that they were "roof rock" events generated by activity in an underlying magma body. However, no volcanic tremor was detected during or after the earthquake sequence.

Although Haroharo has not been historically active, five eruptions in the last 10,000 years have been dated by 14C or tephrochronological methods. Very large explosive eruptions occurred roughly 2,050, 2,850, 5,050, and 7,050 years before the present (BP). Dome extrusion occurred at 2,450 years BP (± 400 years).

[Reference. Cole, J.W., and Nairn, I.A., 1975, Catalog of active volcanoes of the world, part XXII.]

Information Contacts: J. Latter, DSIR, Wellington; I. Nairn and B. Scott, NZGS, Rotorua; P. Otway, NZGS, Wairakei.


November 1987 (SEAN 12:11) Citation IconCite this Report


Tectonic seismic swarm; no co-seismic deformation

A short but intense sequence of earthquakes occurred in the Lake Rotomahana area of the [Tarawera] rift on 16 November. The largest event (ML 3.8) occurred at 1835, in the middle of the sequence; events continued until about 2000. A geodetic survey of the Lake Rotomahana strain monitoring pattern was completed ~20 minutes before the earthquake sequence commenced. Selected stations were reoccupied three days later but no significant co-seismic deformation was detected. All the earthquakes appeared to be of tectonic origin. Similar swarms were recorded 22-23 February 1986 and in February 1983.

The 17-km-long Tarawera Rift was the site of a vigorous eruption in 1886 that ejected ~0.7 km3 of basaltic magma in ~4 hours (Nairn and others, 1986); large phreatic explosions occurred from Lake Rotomahana, which has grown substantially since that eruption. Phreatic explosions have been recorded [16] times between 1896 and 1973 in the [Waimangu] thermal area to the SW, along the rift.

Reference. Nairn, I.A., Cole, J.W., Houghton, B.F., and Wilson, C.J.N., 1986, Tarawera 1886 eruption: International Volcanological Congress Handbook, 1-9 February 1986, p. 111-121.

Information Contacts: B. Scott, NZGS Rotorua; S. Sherburn, DSIR Geophysics, Wairakei.

Eruptive History


Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1981 May 16 ± 15 days 1981 May 16 ± 15 days Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Raupo Pond crater)
1978 Feb 23 1978 Feb 23 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Raupo Pond, Inferno Crater)
1973 Feb 22 1973 Feb 22 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1951 Jun 16 ± 15 days Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Rotomahana
1926 Nov 17 1926 Nov 18 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Rotomahana
1924 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1918 1920 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1917 Mar 24 1917 Apr 4 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1915 Nov 5 1915 Nov 9 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1915 Feb 4 1915 Apr 13 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater & NW of Fairy Crater)
1914 Jan 28 1914 Feb Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (NW of Fairy Crater)
1913 Jan 27 1913 Jan 27 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1912 Apr Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1910 Jul 24 1910 Jul 25 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1908 Oct 1 1908 Oct 1 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1906 Feb 21 1906 Feb 21 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (NW of Fairy Crater)
1905 Jun 17 1905 Jun 17 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1905 Feb 18 1905 Feb 23 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1900 Jan 1904 Nov 1 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu Geyser
1896 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Waimangu (Echo Crater)
1886 Jun 10 1886 Aug Confirmed 5 Historical Observations Tarawera (Wahanga-Waimangu fissure)
1310 ± 12 years 1315 (?) Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tarawera (Kaharoa eruption)
0180 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Te Kopia thermal area
0300 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 0 Tephrochronology Mt. Edgecumbe
1330 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Mt. Edgecumbe
1750 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Haroharo (Rotokawau to Rotoatua)
3580 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) Haroharo (Makatiti and other domes)
5550 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 0 Tephrochronology Mt. Edgecumbe
6060 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) Haroharo (Te Horoa & other domes)
7560 BCE ± 18 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) Rotoma caldera, Tuahu, Kawerau
8050 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology West Rerewhakaaitu fissures

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Photo Gallery


The Haroharo volcanic complex is the NW-most of two lava dome complexes forming the Okataina volcanic centre. A 16 x 28 km wide caldera was formed incrementally during eruptions between 300,000 and 50,000 years ago. Its rim, seen in this photo in the background across an infilling caldera lake, is generally obscured by a group of overlying lava domes. All post-caldera domes are less than 20,000 years old, and the most recent Haroharo eruption took place about 3500 years ago.

Photo by Ian Nairn (Geological Survey of New Zealand).
See title for photo information.
The 1886 Tarawera eruptive fissure, seen from the north, cut lava domes of the 800-year-old Kaharoa eruption. The rocks of the 1886 eruption, 20-30 m thick here, are red and black, and overlie white rhyolitic pyroclastic rocks of the Kaharoa eruption. This view shows a 2-km-long section of the 8-km en echelon fissure with gray rocks of the Ruawahia lava dome appearing at the far end.

Photo by Bruce Houghton (Wairakei Research Center).
See title for photo information.
The SE part of the fissure within Ruawahia crater reveals stratigraphy from the ca. 700 BP Kaharoa and 1886 CE eruptions. The 35-m-thick light-colored Kaharoa plinian deposits at the base are largely obscured by talus fans of scoria from above. The thick overlying bright red scoria is from phase 2 of the 1886 eruption. Above it is a thin black zone (phase 3) consisting of very widespread scoria fall. Phase 4 (at the top) consists of white rhyolitic blocks ripped off the walls during the vent widening in the last half hour of the 10 June 1886 eruption.

Photo by Bruce Houghton (Wairakei Research Center).
See title for photo information.
The flat-topped Tarawera lava dome complex at the top of the photo to the NE is one of two large dome complexes forming the Okataina volcanic center at the northern end of the Taupo volcanic zone. An eruptive fissure that cuts the dome complex and extends across Lake Rotomahana to the foreground was the source of a major eruption in 1886. The Tarawera complex and the Haroharo complex off the photo to the left were both sources of major explosive eruptions during the Pleistocene and Holocene that produced large ignimbrite sheets.

Photo by Lloyd Homer, courtesy of Bruce Houghton (Wairakei Research Center).
See title for photo information.
The 800-year-old Kaharoa eruption was the first Holocene eruption of the Tarawera lava dome complex. It produced an extensive rhyolitic airfall deposit that extended to the east coast of North Island. Geologist Pat Brown examines a charcoalized log within a pyroclastic-flow deposit from this eruption. The upper part of the section consists of blocky debris from collapse of a rhyolitic lava dome at the end of the eruption.

Photo by Jim Cole (University of Canterbury).
See title for photo information.
The steaming Waimangu cauldron is located near the southern end of the 1886 eruptive fissure. Intermittent phreatic eruptions took place from this and other craters south of Lake Rotomahana from 1886 until as recently as 1973. Waimangu (black water) geyser was spectacularly active from 1900 until it became extinct on November 1, 1904.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1986 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
This large fissure system produced during a major explosive eruption at Tarawera in 1886 is one of the most dramatic features of the massive Okataina Volcanic Centre. Okataina is surrounded by extensive ignimbrite and pyroclastic sheets produced during caldera-forming eruptions. The subparallel NE-SW-trending Haroharo and Tarawera complexes consist of rhyolitic lava domes and associated lava flows that formed between about 15,000 and 800 years ago and impounded lakes against the margins of the Okataina ring structure.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1986 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 20 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 116210-13 Basalt scoria
NMNH 116210-14 Tephra
NMNH 116210-15 Tephra
NMNH 116210-16 Tephra
NMNH 116210-18 Basalt scoria
NMNH 116210-19 Volcanic ash
NMNH 116210-20 Poorly-sorted pyroclastic-rock
NMNH 116210-21 Welded ignimbrite
NMNH 116210-22 Rhyolite
NMNH 117454-25 Perlite
NMNH 117454-26 Rhyolite
NMNH 117454-27 Rhyolite
NMNH 117454-28 Rhyolite
NMNH 117454-64 Basalt
NMNH 117636-1 Perlite
NMNH 117636-2 Obsidian
NMNH 117636-3 Pumice
NMNH 117636-4 Obsidian
NMNH 117636-5 Obsidian
NMNH 117636-6 Obsidian

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