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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — November 1989


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 11 (November 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Upwelling in crater lake; inflation stops

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198911-241100


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

When geologists visited Ruapehu on 17 November, Crater Lake temperature was 23°C, a decrease from 25°C on 19 October. Chemical concentrations in the lake remained stable, but lake color had changed from pale gray in October to pale blue green. Three small brown upwelling cells over the N vent formed yellow sulfur strands. Upwelling over the central vent formed a gray slick, which had spread over ~80% of the lake by a 22 November overflight. Only minor seismicity was observed after 20 September. Minor deflation was measured between 19 October and 17 November, reversing the inflationary trend recorded in September and October. Within the past two years, three similar inflationary pulses recorded during declining lake temperatures have been followed 3-4 months later by episodes of renewed lake heating and small eruptions (figures 7 and 9).

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: P. Otway, DSIR Wairakei.