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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — April 1989


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 4 (April 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Heat flow declines

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198904-241100


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Since February, no discrete eruptions have been reported although steam passively rising from Crater Lake has occasionally been witnessed. When geologists visited the volcano 21-22 March, slight upwelling in the N vent area formed broken sulfur slicks. Crater Lake's temperature had fallen to 32°C (a 10.5° drop over 23 days) representing a decline in heat flow to ~10% of its previous rate. Lake level had decreased to 100-150 mm below overflow. Lake chemistry was stable, showing little change in Mg/Cl since 11 January. Minor inflation was measured across the N crater rim. On 5 April, geologists observed slightly increased upwelling in the N vent area. The lake temperature was 31.3°C. N-rim inflation had largely disappeared. NZGS geologists noted that some previous pulses of inflation/deflation have been followed by renewed lake heating (or strong seismicity). Few tremor episodes and volcanic earthquakes were recorded on seismic records through . . . 5 April.

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, NZGS Wairakei.