Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — 11 May-17 May 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 17 May GeoNet reported that the lake temperature of Ruapehu's summit Crater Lake had decreased from a high of 46 degrees Celsius to 39 degrees, with some of the decrease attributed to rain and snowfall. Moderate levels of volcanic tremor continued, and analysis of water samples collected the previous week showed no changes in the lake chemistry. During recent visits, scientists measured a larger output of volcanic gases. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 (moderate to heightened unrest) and the Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow.
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.