Mt Tongariro – long considered a peaceful neighbour to the rowdy Ruapehu – is much more fiery than we ever realised, says a scientist sharing new findings today.

GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott, among scientists giving presentations in a workshop at Whakapapa Village, has found evidence of eruptions at Mt Tongariro that weren’t previously on the records.

Tongariro’s dramatic eruptions in August and November of 2012 transformed our understanding of what had been considered a comparatively docile mountain, Mr Scott said.

When ash shot from the Te Maari Crater 7km into the sky shortly before midnight on August 6, it was thought at the time to have been the first blow there since 1896.

But Mr Scott has since found records indicating an eruption at the crater in 1928, with other events at Red Crater – a feature of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – in 1909, 1926, 1927 and 1934. Further, there was volcanic unrest at the mountain right up until the 1970s, he said.

“We all knew Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe were pretty busy but, until now, nobody really perceived Tongariro as being as active as it has been.”

The new information, with the 2012 eruptions, had led to a range of new protocols and emergency policies at the peak, including warning systems and more public information. “[And] we’ve upgraded monitoring equipment in the area and have put in place more seismographs.”

Other research being presented would discuss findings around the ballistics of rocks that were ejected from the mountain in 2012, as well as the volcanic avalanches and debris flows that came with the eruption.

Mr Scott saw the event as a success story because authorities had been able to warn residents after monitoring picked up elevated activity.

Today’s workshop will kick off a weekend reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the 1995-96 eruptions of Mt Ruapehu. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the 1975 Ngauruhoe eruption and the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Ruapehu eruption.

Mt Ruapehu eruptions: 20 years on

• The 1995-96 eruptions ejected a total of 60 million cubic metres of acidic ash – blanketing districts up to 300km from the mountain, irritating eyes and throats in the central North Island, damaging car paintwork and machinery, contaminating rivers and water supplies, ruining crops, closing state highways, forcing airports to shut and killing livestock which ate ash-covered pastures.

• Electricity suppliers were hit with multimillion-dollar losses as ash shorted out power pylons and severely damaged turbines in the Rangipo power station. At times the ash plume reached as high at 10km, which represented a significant aviation hazard.

• The eruptions were similar in size to those in 1945, but their social and economic impacts were much greater. In 1945 there was just one ski area and no ski lifts on Ruapehu. By 1995, there were three ski areas and 36 ski lifts. By the mid-90s there were up to 10,000 people on the mountain on some days during winter.

– NZ Herald


SPAMMAr – SPAM Municipal Airport

This airport is the second largest, designed to compliment SPAM and MTP communities and will replace the Maxis Municipal Airport.
The parking lots are transit enabled for vehicles.
All costs, stats and lot size remain the same as the Maxis original.

**Note: Additional dependency files are required for this lot.   Please see the readme for details.


SPAM – Small Landing Strip

Way back in June 2010 the MTP abcvs Small Landing Strip one of my first ever lots was released.  It was also pre-spam so did not include any of the better props and textures from that pack.

The landing strip has now been given a mini make-over with a few of the newer SPAM props and textures.  The movie set trailer check in facilities have been given a small upgrade to an A-Frame chalet. The rollo-gate prop has now also been fixed, and the main gate will now open and close properly.  The parking lot is now transit enabled for vehicles and pedestrians.

This lot will replace the Maxis Small Landing Strip in-game however all costs and stats remain the same as the Maxis original.

To install unzip and place the lot file in:
Documents/Simcity 4/Plugins

**If you are using the original MTP abcvs Small Landing strip please delete that file from your plugins and replace it with this one.

**Note: Additional dependency files are required for this lot.   Please see the readme for details.


SPAM – Rural Passenger Station 

This rural passenger station is designed to compliment SPAM and MTP themed communities.   The lot will plop one of five different station buildings, and features various timed props that will appear during the day.

The station is transit enabled for both passenger and freight trains.  The parking lot is also transit enabled for vehicles.

**Note: Additional dependency files are required for this lot.   Please see the readme for details.


SPAM – Rural Rail Halt

This small rural rail halt is designed to compliment SPAM and MTP themed communities, that has a quarter the capacity of a regular train station.

The parking lot is transit enabled for vehicles.

SPAM Rural Rail Halt – Dirt
SPAM Rural Rail Halt – Gravel

**Note: Additional dependency files are required for this lot.   Please see the readme for details.

M.U.L.E. (Mountain UtiLity Extension)

The M.U.P.P.E.T.’s (Mountain Utility Personnel Providers of Extended Technology) have been busy creating a new utility pack for our mountain and rural areas.They have come up with the following five utility lots:*Waste to Energy Burn Pile
*Donkey Engine Power Generator
*Longdrop Composting Power Generator (toxic vapour)
*Longdrop Composting Power Generator (non-toxic)
*Moonshine Still Water PumpThe lots have varying smoke and ‘vapour’ effects depending on what the utility is actually producing. Naturally the most noxious of the four is the longdrop, and yes it does cause just a small amount of air pollution (10). The good news however is that while it produces the same power output as the donkey generator (500), its running costs are considerably less, after all… as long as the TP costs are covered… the rest is pretty much free.These utility lots have reduced stats and outputs, as they are not intended to power or water a whole tile… rather just a small isolated part of it. Of course if you want to stick one of these babies, in your ultra modern megatropolis, and call it an ‘art installation’ then of course you can!All lots have transparent base textures to blend with whichever terrain mod is being used, and are slope tolerant.

The boys have fired up the old donkey engine, and connected the flywheel to a generator.  I am not entirely sure if the set up is completely safety approved, but it does seem to work!    The boys seem to alternate between chopping wood and standing around yakking.

Longdrop Composting Power Plant (with toxic fumes)

Longdrop Composting Power Plant (without toxic fumes)…

Moonshine Still Water Pump

Waste to Energy Burn Pile

Download Link – Click Here

MTP Super Pack
SPAM Resource
The Terrain Kit (7n1)
NBVC Logging Set

New Zealand tech company Rakon’s special frequency-control technology is crucial to the space probe’s historic mission.
The Rosetta spacecraft and the Philae robotic landing craft above comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The Rosetta spacecraft and the Philae robotic landing craft above comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

New Zealand engineers will be watching closely as a space probe attempts to hitch a ride on a comet streaking by at 66,000km/h early tomorrow morning.

Scientists have waited more than a decade for one of the most audacious space adventures ever – the European Space Agency’s attempt to land a scientific probe on the giant ball of ice and dust known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

They’ll find out about 5am tomorrow (NZT) whether their plan will work when the agency’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, gives its unmanned Rosetta space probe the final go-ahead to drop a lander on the comet.

[Read More]

– AP, with additional reporting by  NZ Herald

[Read Even More] – Space probe ‘bounced’ in historic comet landing






Carparthia III, is a fantasy sci-fi story written by Ian Fox (aka Zelgadis on Simtropolis).

The story follows the adventures of six friends as they are transported away from their home planet to the despotic moon Yseri.   Each in their own very different ways must then find the will to not only survive, but face the many and varied challenges that transpire along their journey.













The background scenery, and cites in the story take their inspiration from Simcity 4.












Colonel Chris Hadfield has signed off after five months as commander of the International Space Station by performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in zero gravity.

The Canadian handed over command of the ISS to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov this morning.

But before returning to Earth, Hadfield performed an evocative version of Bowie’s 1969 hit while floating with a guitar through the ISS.

The stunning video, which has been posted and shared online, is made all the more amazing because of the views of Earth and space through the windows of the ISS.

The lyrics are also perfectly fitting.

‘‘Here I am, sitting in a tin can, far above the world,’’ Hadfield sings.

‘‘Planet Earth is blue … and there’s nothing left to do.’’

Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, left Earth on December 19, 2012, and has spent five month aboard the ISS.

But his tour has not been without incident, including an emergency spacewalk on the weekend to fix an ammonia leak.

Hadfield is due to return to Earth later this week aboard a Russian Soyuz space capsule that will land in Kazakhstan.

The 53-year-old former fighter pilot has become something of an  internet sensation during his time in space, posting a series of  pictures and videos from the ISS. Among them was a lesson in space station cooking.

He’s also got 775,000 followers on Twitter, thanks to his string of social media updates from the ISS.


Rangitoto is older than previously believed. Photo /  Brett Phibbs

Rangitoto is older than previously believed. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Rangitoto may be much older – and more explosive – than previously believed.

A new study has led scientists to reassess how volcanoes may behave in the future and could be a large step toward unlocking Auckland’s mysterious volcanic past.

Contrary to the long-held belief that Rangitoto was formed less than 700 years ago and has erupted only twice, University of Auckland researchers now suspect there may have been intermittent activity from between 1500 years ago to 500 years ago.

Alongside basaltic ash from the island volcano’s most recent eruption between 500 and 550 years ago, sediment samples taken from Lake Pupuke have revealed evidence of minor eruptions 922 years ago, 1040 years ago and 1500 years ago.

Read More – NZ Herald

New Rangitoto volcano research prompts re-think

Potential scenario of a volcanic eruption

A new discovery that shows that Rangitoto erupted “semi-continuously” for about 1000 years is prompting scientists to re-think what the volcano could do in the future.

The most recent volcano to erupt in Auckland, Rangitoto was thought to be close to 550-years-old and to have erupted once or twice in its lifetime.

However, new University of Auckland research shows that the volcano actually erupted “intermittently” or “semi-continuously” from about 1500 years to 500 years ago, smashing traditionally-held beliefs about volcanoes here and around the globe.

The findings are also prompting scientists to re-think how Auckland’s volcanoes will behave in the future.

“The old paradigm was that these volcanoes erupt suddenly in a new location each time, and only live for months to a year or two,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Phil Shane.

Read More – New Zealand Herald

Auckland at night


BEACON: Auckland from the space station.


A Canadian astronaut on the International Space Station has photographed a bright Auckland at night – and tweeted it.

“Holding a third of New Zealand’s population, it radiates like a beacon between the harbours,” International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield said this morning.

Yesterday he tweeted a picture of Christchurch just after Earth Hour ended on Saturday.

The international effort involves cutting lights and electricity use between 8.30pm and 9.30pm in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

Aboard the space station, Hadfield, who has made a speciality out of photographing the Earth, said on Twitter he was going to photograph the Earth Hour efforts.

A little while later he said it turned out that orbital mechanics did not support seeing the lights out effort.

But in one of his pictures he caught Christchurch just after Earth Hour ended.

“The perfect grid system of the downtown core is clearly visible,” he says.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has claimed success in his mission to recover Apollo 11 moon mission engines that plunged into the ocean decades ago.

“We found so much,” Bezos said in a blog posting en route to land after three weeks at sea for his Bezos Expeditions project.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland — an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”

Bezos said many of the original serial numbers from the engines have been eroded, making identification difficult, but that his team would conduct a restoration.

“The objects themselves are gorgeous,” he said.

“We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces. Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible.”

Bezos said his team would have enough major components to create displays of two flown F-1 engines, and that a restoration would stabilise the hardware and prevent further corrosion.

“We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface,” he said. “We’re excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing.”

It was not immediately clear when or where the objects might be displayed, but Bezos said when he launched the project last year that he hoped they could be viewed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The engines that rocketed astronaut Neil Armstrong and his crew toward the moon in 1969 were located deep in the Atlantic Ocean using sophisticated sonar equipment.

Bezos used private funds to raise the F-1 engines from their resting places 14,000 feet (4,267 metres) below the surface of the ocean, even though he has maintained that they remain the property of NASA.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden welcomed the news.

“This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artefacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit,” Bolden said in a statement.

“We look forward to the restoration of these engines by the Bezos team and applaud Jeff’s desire to make these historic artefacts available for public display.”


Here is the 2012 annual report for  Screw Pile Developments!

Screwpile Developments got about 8,000 views in 2012, however since starting this site back in July, there have now been over 23,000 dropbox downloads via the SPEX!

The most popular files have been Building Prop 1 (1782 downloads) and Building Prop 2 (1420 downloads).

So a huge thank you to all those who have visited, clicked and downloaded…

Click here to see the complete report.