Long-dormant New Zealand volcano erupts

Aug 07, 2012 by Marty Melville
State Highway 1 sits in a cloud of ash after the eruption of Mount Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park on August 7, 2012. The New Zealand volcano erupted unexpectedly late on August 6 after lying dormant for more than a century, spewing an ash plume that disrupted flights and closed highways, officials said.

A New Zealand volcano suddenly erupted after lying dormant for more than a century, spewing an ash plume that disrupted flights and closed highways, officials said Tuesday.

The Mount Tongariro volcano, in the middle of North Island, erupted just before midnight (1200 Monday GMT) in the first significant activity at the site since 1897, the official monitoring body GNS Science said.

Witnesses in the area, which was used as a backdrop for the Mount Doom sequences in "The Lord of the Rings" movies, reported "flame-like explosions and a cloud of ash coming from a new hole in the side of the mountain".

"There were rocks being thrown out. It was like thunder and lightning and fireworks. It was spectacular," local resident David Bennett told Fairfax Media.

Police reported no injuries or damage from the eruption.

Graphic map of New Zealand locating Mount Tongariro volcano, which erupted and spewed out an ash plume that disrupted flights and closed highways, officials said Tuesday.

Civil Defence said it did not result in any but sent a cloud of ash 20,000 feet (6,100 metres) into the atmosphere, forcing the cancellation of dozens of domestic flights.

While Civil Defence officials did not order any evacuations, they advised residents beneath the cloud to stay indoors with windows and doors sealed.

They said late Tuesday that the immediate threat had passed, but added "an eruption could occur at Tongariro at any time with little or no warning".

Volcanologists admitted the eruption took them by surprise, with no recorded at the slumbering volcano before it rumbled back to life.

Prime Minister John Key said authorities were watching the situation closely.

"Civil Defence and others will continue to monitor the situation and if we believe it presents more significant risks then obviously we'll make sure that everyone's well and truly notified of that," he told reporters.

Horses eat freshly laid out hay after the eruption of Mount Tongariro coated the ground with volcanic ash at Rangipo in the Tongariro National Park on August 7, 2012. New Zealand lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", where the Earth's tectonic plates collide, making it a hotspot for earthquakes and volcanic activity.

New Zealand lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", where the Earth's collide, making it a hotspot for earthquakes and .

One of the country's deadliest disasters occurred in 1953, when debris from an eruption at Mount Ruapehu, also in the central North Island, downed a rail bridge, leading to a train derailment that claimed 151 lives.

Mount Tarawera, in the same area, erupted in 1886, with a death toll estimated at 120-150 people.

Rangipo farmer Dave Allen said the Mount Tongariro eruption woke him with "an almighty bang" and he looked out of his window so see explosions on the side of the mountain, before fleeing his home.

"It was an amazing sight...(but) I didn't hang around to see how beautiful it was going to get in case it all came flying down the mountain on top of us," he told AFP.

Volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Tongariro coats the windscreen of a vehicle at Rangipo in the Tongariro National Park on August 7, 2012. While Civil Defence officials did not order any evacuations, they advised residents beneath the cloud to stay indoors with windows and doors sealed.

"We turned all the power off and grabbed a couple of neighbours and their kids and went off to a meeting point."

Air New Zealand said the eruption affected domestic flights to Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo, Napier and Palmerston North but most services were back to normal late Tuesday.

The CAA said international flights were not expected to be disrupted, as they cruise above 20,000 feet.

Police said several highways in North Island were initially closed due to poor visibility and reopened Tuesday morning.

GNS Science volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said volcanic activity could continue for weeks.

"This eruption caught us by surprise. We've been monitoring the area after earthquakes, but we didn't expect this," he told TVNZ.

"This might just be a quiet period and we should expect it to start again at any time. So we are watching things very closely."

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Lurker2358
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
Volcanologists admitted the eruption took them by surprise, with no seismic activity recorded at the slumbering volcano before it rumbled back to life.


One wonders how that could even be physically possible.

The magma which caused the eruption had to come from somewhere, unless a nuclear explosion occurred inside the volcano, which is incredibly unlikely.

So what, a hot spot of magma has been just below the surface of the rock for the past 110 years, and it only just exploded after all this time, with no new intrusions to be detected by seismology?

That makes volcanology a dead-end science...or so close to it anyway...
Sean_W
2 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2012
When they saying there was no seismic activity is a bit of an exaggeration isn't it?. There was no volcanic tremblors so it was surprisingly sudden in that sense but there had been more general earthquake activity in recent days.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 07, 2012
"Volcanologists admitted the eruption took them by surprise"
But scientists are certain what the global temperature will be in 100 years.
Jonseer
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 07, 2012
"Volcanologists admitted the eruption took them by surprise"
But scientists are certain what the global temperature will be in 100 years.


Medicine is just as much of a science as Volcanology and Climatology.

I bet while you are pondering what your Dr. tells you, you scoff dismissively, because vulcanologists failed to detect any warning signs of this eruption right?

The fact you think your comment makes any sense just proves how profound your level of ignorance is regarding science.

You actually use the word "scientist" as if being a scientist is some sort of specialty that all scientists study. That's pathetic.

Oh and NO "scientist" (climatologist) has ever said or claimed to be certain as to the exact temp. 100 years from now.

The fact you think they did shows you've NEVER read anything by a climatologist, a scientist who specializes in the study of climatology.
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2012
One wonders how that could even be physically possible.

Apparently, only one though.
rubberman
1 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2012
"Volcanologists admitted the eruption took them by surprise"
But scientists are certain what the global temperature will be in 100 years.


Only the idiot free market scientists were watching which is why it came as such a surprise, the intelligent socialist scientists saw it coming for 3 days but kept it a secret so they could make wagers on the exact time of eruption.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 08, 2012
Medicine is just as much of a science as Volcanology and Climatology.

Why do doctors 'practice' medicine?
how profound your level of ignorance is regarding science.

No, I point out the level of faith too many have in science. Especially AGW. Too many in science are afraid to acknowledge what they do not know.
And yes I scoff at many things in medical science because they are wrong. They are wrong because no funds the study. In the debate over low fat or low carb, low carb is carrying the day as more 'studies' are done. However, many others for decades believed what they saw in themselves and others instead of trusting doctor's studies.
That is the problem with medical studies. It is almost impossible to have a control group of humans and not all humans are alike responding differently to tests.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2012
Jonseer:

Actually, practical medicine is in a pretty bad state of affairs right now, as an actual diagnosis of normal people's illnesses almost never even happens.

Now if you're rich, or a senator, that's a different matter.

If you're anyone else, they pretty much just treat symptoms and speculate about the root cause until it kills you...
sherriffwoody
not rated yet Aug 11, 2012
And White island off the east coast of NZ is looking pretty active at the moment. Its flared up as well. Its glow can be seen from the North Island at night.