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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — July 1985


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 7 (July 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Hydrothermal activity ceases; lake temperatures drop

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198507-241100


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Geologists returned to Crater Lake on 11 July and 5 August to monitor trends in lake temperature and crater deformation following June's increased activity.

In July, the lake was the normal battleship-gray color with some sulfur slicks at the central vent area, unchanged from late June. The lake temperature was 31.5°C (a 5.5° decline since late June) and the air carried a strong gas odor toward one lake outlet. The lake was about 0.5 m below overflow level and there was no evidence of recent large surges. No hydrothermal eruptions cccurred during the 4.5-hour observation period.

By 5 August, the lake color had changed to light gray and its temperature was nearly unchanged. There was no sign of convection at either of the two vents, and snow and ice were within 0.5 m of the lake surface. The lake had begun overflowing at 3 l/s.

Only a 15 ± 10 mm expansion across the N rim of the crater was reported on the 11 July inspection. Rapid but minor deformations were occurring in July, but their significance was uncertain.

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: I. Nairn, NZGS, Rotorua; P. Otway, NZGS, Wairakei.