Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — 28 January-3 February 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 January-3 February 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 January-3 February 2015. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 30 January, GeoNet reported that water temperatures of Ruapehu's summit Crater Lake had been increasing since early December 2014, rising from 15 degrees Celsius to over 40. Similar temperatures were recorded in March 2011 and April 2014, before the lake cooled.
Data from a field visit on 14 January showed increased amounts of volcanic gas emissions through the lake. Other recent observations from pilots and field visits confirmed that the lake changed color from blue green to light gray due to lake convection. A GeoNet volcanologist noted that lake temperature cycling was not unusual; five heating cycles have been detected since 2010. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Green and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (signs of volcano unrest).
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.