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Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert

Posted by feww on May 3, 2008

Submitted by a reader

Will one or both of New Zealand islands break up and sink in the south-western Pacific Ocean?

Update [June 30, 2008]: Ruapehu crater lake temperatures remain high

Increased risk of eruptions on Mt Ruapehu

Scientists are alarmed by an increased risk of eruptions on Mt Ruapehu. Climbers are warned about the increased gas concentrations near the Ruapehu’s crater lake that will affect some people.

In a moderate-sized eruption last year, William Pike, a geography teacher, lost part of his leg after a lahar partially buried him under tons of debris.

The crater lake temperature normally rises and drops in regular cycles. However, since the last eruption, the temperatures have remained above the of 34 – 38 °C range, a Conservation Department scientist said.

“Since September there’s been a long period of heating in the volcano, which is unusual. Normally the crater lake temperature goes up and down every nine to 15 months.

“But it has been hovering around 34-38 degrees when it normally should be lower than this.

“Basically, the temperature has stayed hot for longer this time.

“There’s no clear pattern – before the last two eruptions it was at the bottom of the cycle.”

Predicting how close the mountain was to erupting involves monitoring numerous factors, especially the crater lake temperature, the scientist said.

“It’s a combination of gas, lake temperature and magma temperature… We are issuing a warning that people should be alert if they go into the summit hazard zone.” (Source)

A train passes over a bridge over the Whangaehu River at the scene of the historic Tangiwai Rail incident after a mud flow from the crater lake of Mount Ruapehu, in the central North Island, New Zealand, Sunday, March 18, 2007. A potentially lethal mix of mud, acidic water and rocks tore down the slope of New Zealand’s Mount Ruapehu on Sunday, emergency officials said, but there was no immediate threat to life. Credit: AP Photo/NZPA, Stephen Barker (Source and Caption: Live Science) Image may be subject to copyright. See Fair Use Notice!

What’s a Lahar?

A lahar is a type of mudflow composed of pyroclastic material and water that flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. The term ‘lahar’ originated in the Javanese language of Indonesia.

Lahars have the consistency of concrete: fluid when moving, then solid when stopped. Lahars can be huge: the Osceola lahar produced 5,600 years ago by Mount Rainier in Washington produced a wall of mud 140 metres (460 ft) deep in the White River canyon and extends over an area of over 330 square kilometres (130 sq mi) for a total volume of 2.3 cubic kilometers (0.55 cubic miles).

Lahars can be extremely dangerous, because of their energy and speed. Large lahars can flow several dozen meters per second and can flow for many kilometres, causing catastrophic destruction in their path. The lahars from the Nevado del Ruiz eruption in Colombia in 1985 caused the Armero tragedy, which killed an estimated 23,000 when the city of Armero was buried under 5 metres (16 ft) of mud and debris. The 1953 Tangiwai incident in New Zealand was caused by a lahar. (Source)


Photo Credit: N. Banks on December 18, 1985 (USGS)

The only remaining buildings in Armero, Colombia, 72 km dowstream from Nevado del Ruiz volcano, destroyed and partially buried by lahars on November 13, 1985. Lahars reached Armero about 2.5 hours after an explosive eruption sent hot pyroclastic flows across the volcano’s broad ice- and snow-covered summit area. Although flow depths in Armero ranged only from 2 to 5 m, three quarters of its 28,700 inhabitants perished. (Caption: USGS)

Plate tectonics

Plate tectonics is a theory of geology that explains the observed evidence for large scale movements of the Earth’s lithosphere. The theory encompassed and superseded the older theory of continental drift from the first half of the 20th century and the concept of seafloor spreading developed during the 1960s. (Source)


The tectonic plates of the world (as of second half of the 20th century). (USGS)

Convergent boundary

In plate tectonics, a convergent boundary – also known as a convergent plate boundary or a destructive plate boundary – is an actively deforming region where two (or more) tectonic plates or fragments of lithosphere move toward one another and collide. (Source)

Will a magnitude 9.8 (MW) earthquake centered at 42° 00′ 59″ South, 175° 05′ 07″ East herald the end of New Zealand Islands?

alpine-fault
New Zealand’s Alpine Fault. Image may be subject to copyright. SEE Fair Use Notice!

Topography of New Zealand (NASA Visible Earth)

PIA06662
Credit: NASA Image courtesy JPL/National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

New Zealand straddles the juncture of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. The Australian Plate is on the west side of the boundary, while the Pacific Plate is on the eastern side. The two plates converge in a scissor-like pattern. In the northern part of the boundary, the Australian plate overrides the Pacific plate, and in the southern part of the plate boundary, the Pacific plate overrides the Australian plate. New Zealand sits in the area around the cross point of this tectonic scissor pattern. (For help visualizing the process, take two index cards and arrange them side by side. On the left-hand card make a cut from the middle of the right edge toward the center. Lift up the top “flap” created by the cut and slide the right-hand card into the cut. Let go of the flap. The left-hand card is the Australian Plate; the right-hand card is the Pacific Plate.)

The collision of the two plates has built two major islands that together exhibit active volcanoes and fault systems, and these geologic features are very evident in the topographic pattern. The image above shows a topographic map of the North and South Islands of New Zealand made from radar data collected by the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Elevation is color-coded, with green at the lower elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations. Shading reveals the direction of slopes. Northwest slopes appear bright, and southeast slopes appear dark.

The North Island lies at the southern end of the west-over-east (Australian over Pacific) plate convergence.
Here, the Pacific plate dives under the North Island, and the immense heat and pressure created by this subduction process melts the deep rock. The melted rock (magma) rises to the surface through the North Island’s volcanoes and other geothermal features. Most notable are Mount Egmont on the west coast, and Mounts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro, clustered just south of the island’s center. The Rotorua geothermal field is northeast of that cluster of volcanoes, and the field appears as a scattering of bumps created by smaller volcanic eruptions.

The South Island straddles the “cross point” of the subduction scissor pattern. To the north of the cross point, the Pacific Plate goes under the Australian Plate; to the south of the cross point, it goes over top. This area around this cross point is not in either subduction zone, which explains why it lacks the volcanic activity of the North Island.

Instead, South Island features a fault system that connects the northern subduction zone to the southern one, which occurs south of South Island. The Alpine fault is the major strand of this fault system along most of the length of the island, near and generally paralleling the west coast. Its impact upon the topography is unmistakable, forming an extremely sharp and straight northwest boundary to New Zealand’s tallest mountains, the Southern Alps. Along the Alpine Fault, the plates are sliding past each other (moving horizontally) somewhere between 35-40 millimeters per year. Vertical differences between the two plates increase at a rate of about 7 millimeters per year, which is consistent with the ongoing uplift of the Southern Alps.

Elevation data used in this image were acquired by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, launched on Feb. 11, 2000. SRTM used the same radar instrument that comprised the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) that flew twice on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1994. SRTM was designed to collect 3-D measurements of the Earth’s surface. To collect the 3-D data, engineers added a 60-meter (approximately 200-foot) mast, installed additional C-band and X-band antennas, and improved tracking and navigation devices. The mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) of the U.S. Department of Defense and the German and Italian space agencies. It is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C.  Caption: Visible Earth.

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31 Responses to “Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert”

  1. feww said

    Magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck Wellington
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/new-round-of-geo-assualt/#comment-4016

  2. feww said

    New Round of Geo-Assualt at Kermadec Trench
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/new-round-of-geo-assualt/

  3. hipeter924 said

    [Unintelligent remark. Edited!]

  4. feww said

    An update is posted at
    Powerful 7.8 M Quake Strikes New Zealand Region
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/powerful-7-8-m-quake-strikes-new-zealand-region/

  5. richard said

    Was hoping to see an update on the more recent (July 09) 7.6 near South Island.

  6. feww said

    Earthquake Details from GeoNet New zealand
    #
    * Reference Number: 3115714
    * NZST: Sun, Jun 28 2009 6:32 am
    * Magnitude: 5.0
    * Depth: 12 km
    * Details: 100 km north-west of Ross
    #
    * Reference Number: 3114956
    * NZST: Sat, Jun 27 2009 5:21 am
    * Magnitude: 4.4
    * Depth: 5 km
    * Details: 10 km north-west of Turangi
    #
    * Reference Number: 3114808
    * NZST: Sat, Jun 27 2009 1:01 am
    * Magnitude: 4.3
    * Depth: 3 km
    * Details: 10 km north-west of Turangi
    #
    * Reference Number: 3109948
    * NZST: Thu, Jun 18 2009 5:57 am
    * Magnitude: 5.1
    * Depth: 170 km
    * Details: Within 5 km of Rotorua

  7. feww said

    Magnitude 6.4 Strikes KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    2009 May 16 00:53:46 UTC
    Magnitude: 6.4
    Date-Time
    – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 00:53:46 UTC
    – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 12:53:46 PM at epicenter
    Location: 31.522°S, 178.887°W
    Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
    Region: KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    Distances: 10 km (5 miles) S of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    – 270 km (170 miles) SSW of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    – 825 km (520 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    – 1215 km (760 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 5.8 km (3.6 miles); depth fixed by location program
    Parameters: NST=289, Nph=289, Dmin=268.6 km, Rmss=0.96 sec, Gp= 22°,
    M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
    Source:
    – USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event ID: us2009gsad

  8. feww said

    A Warning to Visitors to New Zealand

    Climatological and Geological Warning!

    The New Zealand region is about to experience significant climatological events and large-scale geological and tectonic activity over an extensive period of time. Would be visitors are advised to stay out of the area for the foreseeable future.

    http://newzeelend.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/a-warning-to-new-zealand-visitors/

  9. feww said

    Magnitude 6.1 – KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    2009 April 26 00:06:54 UTC
    Magnitude 6.1
    Date-Time
    * Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 00:06:54 UTC
    * Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 12:06:54 PM at epicenter
    Location 30.270°S, 178.603°W
    Depth 142 km (88.2 miles) set by location program
    Region KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    Distances
    = 130 km (80 miles) NNE of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    = 135 km (85 miles) SSW of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    = 960 km (590 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    = 1,365 km (840 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty
    horizontal +/- 6.8 km (4.2 miles); depth fixed by location program
    Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event ID us2009fxab

  10. feww said

    Magnitude 5.2 – KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    2009 April 24 05:37:35 UTC
    Magnitude 5.2
    Date-Time
    * Friday, April 24, 2009 at 05:37:35 UTC
    * Friday, April 24, 2009 at 05:37:35 PM at epicenter
    Location 31.697°S, 177.669°W
    Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
    Region KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    Distances
    = 120 km (75 miles) ESE of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    = 270 km (170 miles) S of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    = 900 km (560 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    = 1260 km (780 miles) NE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty
    horizontal +/- 13.8 km (8.6 miles); depth fixed by location program
    Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event ID us2009fvaq

  11. feww said

    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/new-zealand-hit-by-another-quake/#comment-2778

    Magnitude 5.2 – KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    2009 April 14 12:48:57 UTC
    Earthquake Details
    Magnitude: 5.2
    Date-Time:
    * Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 12:48:57 UTC
    * Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 12:48:57 AM at epicenter
    Location: 30.352°S, 177.950°W
    Depth: 5.4 km (3.4 miles) (poorly constrained)
    Region: KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    Distances:
    – 120 km (75 miles) S of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    – 150 km (95 miles) NE of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    – 990 km (610 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    – 1380 km (860 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty: orizontal +/- 12.5 km (7.8 miles); depth +/- 19.6 km (12.2 miles)
    Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event ID: us2009fkas
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/new-zealand-hit-by-another-quake/#comment-2778

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  13. feww said

    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/magnitude-68-quake-strikes-kermadec-isls-region/#comment-2379
    February 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

    KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION Earthquake Update:

    Magnitude 6.9 quake strikes KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    Magnitude: 6.9
    Date-Time
    * Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 21:53:45 UTC
    * Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 09:53:45 AM at epicenter
    Location: 27.415°S, 176.419°W
    Depth: 25 km (15.5 miles) set by location program
    Region: KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
    Distances:
    * 250 km (155 miles) NE of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    * 505 km (315 miles) NNE of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    * 1335 km (830 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    * 1740 km (1080 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 7.1 km (4.4 miles); depth fixed by location program
    Parameters: NST=221, Nph=221, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=0.95 sec, Gp= 22°,
    M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
    Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

    Event ID: us2009dfb4
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/magnitude-68-quake-strikes-kermadec-isls-region/#comment-2379

  14. feww said

    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/magnitude-68-quake-strikes-kermadec-isls-region/#comment-2391
    February 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Magnitude 6.0 Strikes KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    Earthquake Details
    Magnitude: 6.0
    Date-Time:
    * Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 03:30:53 UTC
    * Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 03:30:53 PM at epicenter
    * Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
    Location: 30.824°S, 178.661°W
    Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
    Region: KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
    Distances:
    * 70 km (45 miles) NNE of L’Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
    * 190 km (120 miles) SSW of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    * 900 km (560 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
    * 1305 km (810 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
    Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 10.5 km (6.5 miles); depth fixed by location program
    Parameters: NST= 45, Nph= 45, Dmin=912.4 km, Rmss=0.99 sec, Gp= 65°,
    M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
    Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

    Event ID: us2009deak
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/magnitude-68-quake-strikes-kermadec-isls-region/#comment-2391

  15. […] Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert […]

  16. […] Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert […]

  17. feww said

    A Magnitude 5.2 Quake shakes NORTH ISLAND, NZ
    New micro plates forming at the top of the North Island, NZ?
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/new-zealand-hit-by-another-quake/

  18. feww said

    Mag 5.3 Earthquake Rattles North Island, NZ
    Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake strikes off east Coast North Island, NZ – Many more quakes are expected in the region
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/mag-53-earthquake-rattles-north-island-nz/

  19. feww said

    Magnitude 6.8 Quake strikes Kermadec Isls Region

    An earthquake with preliminary magnitude 6.8 struck in the Kermadec Islands region, north of New Zealand

    For background information and earlier FEWW forecast see:

    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/magnitude-68-quake-strikes-kermadec-isls-region/

  20. feww said

    Another large quake strikes NZ

    Posted by feww on October 19, 2008
    Global Earthquake Watch
    Large earthquake strikes 20 km north of Rotorua, New Zealand
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/another-large-quake-strikes-nz/

  21. feww said

    Earthquake Cluster Zone Closing in on New Zealand

    Posted by feww on October 6, 2008
    Another Powerful Quake Hits Kermadec Isles Region
    A magnitude 6.5 earthquake followed by two strong aftershocks hit the Kermadec Islands region
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/earthquake-cluster-closes-in-on-new-zealand/

  22. feww said

    Magnitude 7 Earthquake Hits Kermadec Islands
    https://feww.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/a-magnitude-7-earthquake-hits-kermadec-islands/

  23. […] Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert […]

  24. feww said

    Isn’t that sad?
    Thank you for stopping by.

  25. El volcan nevado del ruiz, el 13 de noviembre de 1985, nos hizo concientizar de todos los conceptos que usted señala en su post: lahars, desidia gubernamental , etc…
    Great post, congratulations

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