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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — July 1994


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 19, no. 7 (July 1994)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Relatively stable with water cooling of Crater Lake

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1994. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 19:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199407-241100


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

When visited on 8 June, Crater Lake appeared a very pale, almost yellowish, gray. On 4 July, as was more typical for the recent past, the crater lake was a uniform battleship-gray with no evidence of convection or slicks. Temperature at Outlet, 22°C, was slightly higher than for June-July in past years. The lake is currently cooling following a minor heating event in early June that followed strong acoustic signals, minor earthquakes, and volcanic tremor 10-15 days earlier. These two recent visits revealed no evidence of eruptive activity.

On 4 July, unusually thick accumulations of snow prevented deformation surveys and emphasized the need to install tiltmeters in key locations to improve the continuity of monitoring. Snow and ice were removed from the ARGOS satellite installation, but the solar panel could not be located under deep snow and battery and transmission power steadily declined.

A working party coordinated by the Ministry of Civil Defence has considered developing a contingency plan for volcanic hazards. They also may adopt a system using "Volcanic Alert Levels" graded from 1 (low level) to 5 (highest level, hazardous eruption in progress).

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, B. Scott, and A. Hurst, IGNS Wairakei.