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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — April 1983


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 4 (April 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Crater lake green; low pH of river water

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198304-241100


New Zealand

39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

When W.W. Chadwick visited the volcano on 18 April, the lake was mostly green, with extensive floating yellow and gray sulfur slicks. Minor upwelling, marked by a light gray patch, was occurring over the N vents; none was observed over the central vent. There was no evidence of recent eruptions or surging. Lake temperature measured at the outlet was 20°C, 3° lower than on the previous visit, 17 March. . . .

On 25 March the New Zealand Railways Communications Section, Taumaranui, reported an abnormally low pH for the Whangaehu River, which drains Crater Lake. Records showed a pH of 3.5 on 3 March, 4.0 on 11 March, 3.5 on 18 March, but 1.5 on 25 March. Chadwick interpreted the data as showing that Crater Lake was overflowing continuously during March and that a substantial increase in flow occurred toward the end of the month.

Geological Summary. 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 dominantly andesitic 110 km3 volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the NW-flank Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. The broad summait area and flank contain at least six vents active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded from the Te Wai a-Moe (Crater Lake) vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as recently as 3,000 years ago. Lahars resulting from phreatic eruptions at the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and lower river valleys.

Information Contacts: W. Chadwick, NZGS, Wairakei.