Mountains stay on eruption alert

Te Maari Crater eruption on Mt Tongariro. Photo / Ben Fraser

The steam and super-heated gases which have been pouring from the side of Mt Tongariro since its two surprise eruptions last year are set to be a feature of the volcano for years.

And nearly two months since Mt Tongariro last blew, GNS volcanologists say there’s every chance of another sudden eruption, just as at neighbouring Mt Ruapehu and White Island to the north.

[Read More – New Zealand Herald]

Volcano watch

White Island
This week downgraded from alert level two to one (out of five). A recently-established lava dome has stopped growing, but scientists say a column of magma not far beneath still poses a threat.

Mt Ruapehu
Remains at alert level one with an exclusion zone around the summit. A suspected blockage below the crater lake may be causing a gas build up that could result in sudden eruption.

Mt Tongariro
Remains at alert level one with part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing closed. Emitting large amounts of gas and sulphur dioxide and scientists still expect a repeat of the last eruption in November.

Restless Ruapehu a bigger threat

The eruption of Ruapehu, June 1996.

Just like Mt Tongariro’s surprise bang on Wednesday afternoon, what happened a few kilometres away at 8.20pm on September 25, 2007, came suddenly and violently.

Shortly before airline pilots noticed a black plume rising above Mt Ruapehu, a volcanic blast threw ash, rocks and water across the summit area, sending two muddy torrents down the skifields.

Inside a hut on the edge of the crater lake, William Pike and James Christie heard a “massive boom” before the building’s door was blown from its hinges and mud and rock poured inside. Mr Pike’s crushed leg later had to be amputated.

The warning signs Mt Ruapehu gave in the days before that explosive moment are being seen again now – worrying scientists that the mountain could be about to produce a similar-sized eruption.

GNS volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said Mt Ruapehu has been showing two forms of unrest, which are considered unrelated.

There have been 45 earthquakes about 5km beneath the mountain since early August, but 35 of those have come in the past month.

[Read More – NZ-Herald]

 

Mount Tongariro Erupts

The Te Maari crater at 1.30pm today. Photo / Geonet

The Te Maari crater at 1.30pm today. Photo / Geonet

Mount Tongariro has erupted, GNS Science reports.

The eruption came from Te Maari Crater, on the western side of the mountain, shortly before 1.30pm.

A massive plume of ash can be seen coming from the mountain.

GNS Science duty volcanologist Nico Fournier told APNZ the eruption happened about 1.20pm.

“There was one eruption, essentially one explosion, and it was not sustained. It spewed some ash possibly a couple of kilometres up the air. The ash is now drifting to the east-southeast.”

Dr Fournier said the eruption was not very loud and was smaller than an earlier eruption in August.

Tongariro, in the centre of the North Island, erupted in August for the first time in 115 years, sending ash as far east as Napier.

According to GeoNet, Tongariro is a complex of multiple volcanic cones constructed over a period of 275,000 years.

The mountain’s active vents include Te Maari, Emerald, North Crater and Red Crater.

Last week GNS Science increased the likelihood of neighbouring volcano Mt Ruapehu erupting, following increased activity on the mountain.

Read More – nzherald.co.nz

Experts: Eruption risk rising

The last eruption at Mt Ruapehu was in 2007. It was also thought to have been caused by a build-up of pressure beneath crater lake. Photo / Nicola Topping

Scientists are warning there are heightened signs of volcanic activity at Mt Ruapehu and an eruption could be just weeks away.

GNS Science experts say pressure is building up in the crater lake at the volcano and there is now a high risk of an eruption.

Volcanologist Steven Sherburn said: “We think that the temperature a few hundred metres beneath crater lake is about 800C, but the lake itself is only about 20C.

“This suggests the vent is partly blocked, which may be leading to a pressure build-up beneath crater lake. A sudden release of the pressure may lead to an eruption.”

[Read More – NZ Herald]

 

 

Ruapehu has a “Blocked Nose”

The blackened crater of Mt Ruapehu after it erupted in 2007. Photo / John Cowpland

The blackened crater of Mt Ruapehu after it erupted in 2007. Photo / John Cowpland

 

The likelihood of Mt Ruapehu erupting has increased, GNS Science says.

GNS Science duty volcanologist Steven Sherburn said changes in measurements at Ruapehu over the last few weeks indicate eruptions are “more likely over the next weeks to months”.

“We are monitoring Ruapehu closely, but it often does not give any immediate warning that it is going to erupt,” Dr Sherburn said.

“We think that the temperature a few hundred metres beneath Crater Lake is about 800 degrees Celsius, but the lake itself is only about 20 degrees Celsius. This suggests the vent is partly blocked which may be leading to a pressure build-up beneath Crater Lake.

“A sudden release of the pressure may lead to an eruption.”

As a result, the Aviation Colour Code has increased from Green to Yellow. However, the Volcanic Alert Level remains at 1. Code Yellow indicates a volcano is experiencing signs of elevated unrest above known background levels.

GNS said small earthquakes have been occurring about 5km beneath the summit area of Ruapehu since late-October, but these may not be directly related to the high temperatures beneath Crater Lake as the earthquakes are much deeper.

A build-up of pressure beneath Crater Lake is thought to have caused the 2007 eruption and a smaller eruption in 2006.

Source – nzherald.co.nz

Waiter, there’s a seagull in my latte

The birds appear to be getting braver. Photo / Thinkstock

They are the scavengers of the sky, and now they are dining out at the expense of Mount Maunganui’s cafe scene.

Menacing seagulls are dive-bombing al fresco customers, knocking over coffees and defecating on cafe patrons.

Cafe Cabana barista Luke Edmond said staff at the Marine Parade eatery replaced coffees and meals about three times a week because of birds swooping in and causing chaos.

“Just the other day one of our regulars was sitting down here drinking a bowl latte.

“The bird actually landed in the bowl, flew up and pooed on her. And of course when it spread its wings to fly away, it flicked coffee on everyone else in the area,” he said.

The cafe replaced six coffees and four meals.

[Read More]

$30m Bioreactor a World First

The new bioreactor facility at the Wairakei Power Station near Taupo. Photo / Jeremy Bright

The new bioreactor facility at the Wairakei Power Station near Taupo. Photo / Jeremy Bright

 

A one-of-a-kind new water treatment facility near Taupo is using gas-gobbling bacteria and 378km of underground pipes to clean Waikato River water.

While it may make a fabulous water feature, Wairakei Power Station’s new bioreactor is a serious piece of industrial plant, and a world first.

It uses sulphur-oxidising bacteria to reduce the levels of hydrogen sulphide in the power station’s cooling water.

The $30 million bioreactor was commissioned in July and formally opened yesterday at Wairakei with a blessing from Rev Sonny Garmonsway of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa (the Maori Anglican Church) and Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The bioreactor’s follows years of trials and a 12-month construction project.

[Read Full Article]