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Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — November 1989

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 11 (November 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ruapehu (New Zealand) Upwelling in crater lake; inflation stops

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:11. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

When geologists visited Ruapehu on 17 November, Crater Lake temperature was 23°C, a decrease from 25°C on 19 October. Chemical concentrations in the lake remained stable, but lake color had changed from pale gray in October to pale blue green. Three small brown upwelling cells over the N vent formed yellow sulfur strands. Upwelling over the central vent formed a gray slick, which had spread over ~80% of the lake by a 22 November overflight. Only minor seismicity was observed after 20 September. Minor deflation was measured between 19 October and 17 November, reversing the inflationary trend recorded in September and October. Within the past two years, three similar inflationary pulses recorded during declining lake temperatures have been followed 3-4 months later by episodes of renewed lake heating and small eruptions (figures 7 and 9).

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, DSIR Wairakei.