Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — March 1989
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 3 (March 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Ruapehu (New Zealand) Small phreatic explosions end; heat flow drops abruptly
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198903-241100.
39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Minor phreatic eruptions were reported from late January through February, but only steam emission has been reported since then. Crater Lake's temperature dropped from 42.5°C on 26 February to 32° on 22 March, and 31.3° on 6 April, suggesting to geophysicists that heat flow through the lake had dropped by roughly an order of magnitude. A continuous temperature monitor was installed near the Crater Lake outlet on 21 March. Minor inflation that had accumulated across the N crater rim between 26 February and 22 March had nearly disappeared by 5 April. Seismic records in March and early April showed little or no tremor or volcanic earthquakes.
Geologic Background. 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.