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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — October 1982


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 10 (October 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) No explosive activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:10. Smithsonian Institution.


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Few changes have been observed since the end of July. NZGS personnel visited Ruapehu on 19-20 and 24 August, 17-18 September, and 21 October.

On all the visits the gray Crater Lake had yellow sulfur patches on its surface and minor to moderate upwelling in the center and near the N shore. Snow lay within 0.5 m of the water's edge and showed no sign of water surge. Water temperatures were 24°C on 24 August, 29° on 17 September, and 25° on 21 October. Magnesium concentration in the water has remained unchanged since February, but chloride concentration has increased. The Mg/Cl ratio has gradually declined from 0.130 in February to 0.115 on 24 August and 0.113 on 17 September. Deformation surveys indicated no apparent summit inflation.

Volcanic tremor has been recorded for some time and peaked in early September. The NZGS interpreted the low [normal] tremor frequency and the unchanged magnesium concentration to indicate that magma is still deep beneath Crater Lake. The increased chloride concentration suggested that gas can freely vent into the bottom of the lake, and the slow rate of lake refilling suggested that no shallow magmatic intrusion had occurred.

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 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 (Te Wai a-moe), 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 3,000 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.

Information Contacts: P. Otway, NZGS, Wairakei; I. Nairn, B. Scott, NZGS, Rotorua; A. Cody, F.R.I., Rotorua.