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Report on Raoul Island (New Zealand) — 22 March-28 March 2006

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 March-28 March 2006
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2006. Report on Raoul Island (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 March-28 March 2006. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (22 March-28 March 2006)

Raoul Island

New Zealand

29.27°S, 177.92°W; summit elev. 516 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After a 17 March eruption at Green Lake on Raoul Island, no new eruptions occurred and seismicity declined through 24 March. GNS observed the volcano via photographs and video on the afternoon of the 17th, and noted that many new craters had formed in and around Green Lake and that pre-existing 1964 craters had reactivated. The main steam columns were derived from Crater I, Marker Bay, and Crater XI. The eruption blew over mature trees as far as 200 m from the eruption site and deposited dark gray hydrothermal mud and ballistic blocks.

An aerial inspection on 21 March revealed that steam discharge from vents had declined significantly owing to a dramatic (6-8 m) rise in Green Lake's water level, and consequent drowning of most of the active vents. There was no evidence of further eruptions after 17 March. There was also no evidence that any activity occurred at the 1964 craters NW of crater gully, but many new craters had formed at the mouth of the gully where hot, bare ground was present. GNS reported that as the hydrothermal system adjusts to the increased fluid pressure, further eruptions remain possible. They recommended that access to the active crater area should be restricted to the margins of the areas affected to date and the Green Lake area should not be entered. According to news reports, the search for a missing person on the island ceased around 22 March. Raoul Island remained at Alert Level 2 (minor eruptive activity).

Geologic Background. Anvil-shaped Raoul Island is the largest and northernmost of the Kermadec Islands. During the past several thousand years volcanism has been dominated by dacitic explosive eruptions. Two Holocene calderas exist, the older of which cuts the center the island and is about 2.5 x 3.5 km wide. Denham caldera, formed during a major dacitic explosive eruption about 2200 years ago, truncated the W side of the island and is 6.5 x 4 km wide. Its long axis is parallel to the tectonic fabric of the Havre Trough that lies W of the volcanic arc. Historical eruptions during the 19th and 20th centuries have sometimes occurred simultaneously from both calderas, and have consisted of small-to-moderate phreatic eruptions, some of which formed ephemeral islands in Denham caldera. An unnamed submarine cone, one of several located along a fissure on the lower NNE flank, has also erupted during historical time, and satellitic vents are concentrated along two parallel NNE-trending lineaments.

Sources: Associated Press, GeoNet