Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand) — 6 April-12 April 2022
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
6 April-12 April 2022
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Ruapehu (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 April-12 April 2022. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 12 April GeoNet reported that unrest at Ruapehu had intensified during the previous week, characterized by increased gas emissions, elevated tremor, and increasing crater lake water temperatures. Tremor levels were elevated but had declined from the peak reached during 6-7 April. Higher levels of gas emissions were confirmed during an overflight on 11 April; a peak carbon dioxide value was the second highest ever recorded at Ruapehu. Lake temperatures continued to slowly climb and reached 38 degrees Celsius. The lake water was gray in color and had area of upwelling over the N vents; sulfur slicks on the lake’s surface were visible. GeoNet noted that temperature and modeled heat input to the lake were within typical ranges for a heating cycle, though the elevated tremor levels and gas emissions suggested that magma was interacting with the geothermal system. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale from 0-5) and the Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.
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.