Eruption fears rise at New Zealand's 'Mount Doom'

Nov 19, 2012
This file illustration photo shows an erupting volcano. A New Zealand volcano that featured as Mount Doom in 'The Lord of the Rings' movies is in danger of erupting as pressure builds in a subterranean vent, according to officials.

A New Zealand volcano that featured as Mount Doom in "The Lord of the Rings" movies is in danger of erupting as pressure builds in a subterranean vent, officials said on Monday.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) warned hikers to avoid the summit of Mount Ruapehu, saying that temperature readings by scientists indicated there was an increased risk of eruption at New Zealand's largest active volcano.

"The current situation can't continue, Ruapehu is so active that the temperatures have been going up and down a lot," DOC volcanic risk manager Harry Keys told Radio New Zealand.

"They generally haven't gone up as we've expected for some weeks now and sooner or later that situation will be rectified, either in a small, relatively passive way, or with a significant eruption."

Graphic locating New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu, which is in danger of erupting

Official monitoring body GNS Science said the temperature a few hundred metres below a lake in the crater of the North Island mountain was estimated at 800 degrees Celsius (1,472 Fahrenheit) but the temperature at the lake itself was just 20C (68F).

It said this indicated a vent was partially blocked, leading to increased pressure that made eruptions more likely "over the next weeks to months".

The 2,797-metre (9,177-foot) mountain last erupted in 2007, sending a lahar—a fast-moving stream of mud and debris—down the mountain but causing no injuries.

In 1953, a massive lahar from the caused New Zealand's worst rail disaster when it washed away a bridge at Tangiwai and a passenger train plunged into the Whangaehu River, claiming 151 lives.

Director Peter Jackson used Mount Ruapehu and the neighbouring Mount Ngauruhoe to depict Mount Doom in "The Lord of the Rings" movies.

Another nearby volcano, Mount Tongariro, erupted in August this year, sending a plume of ash 20,000 feet (6,100 metres) into the atmosphere, showering the North Island and disrupting domestic air travel.

Explore further: Experiments open window on landscape formation

Related Stories

Long-dormant New Zealand volcano erupts

Aug 07, 2012

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.

Image: Mount Tongariro erupts

Aug 09, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Late on August 6, 2012, New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro erupted for the first time in 115 years, spewing a cloud of ash over North Island, closing roads, and cancelling domestic flights. ...

Indonesia issues red alert as volcano erupts

Mar 18, 2011

Indonesia issued a red alert Friday after Mount Karangetang on the island of Sulawesi erupted, sending lava and searing gas clouds down its slopes, a volcanologist said.

Indonesian volcano erupts

Jul 03, 2011

A volcano on Indonesia's Sulawesi island erupted Sunday, spewing ash and smoke 5,000 metres into the air.

Recommended for you

Experiments open window on landscape formation

12 hours ago

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

13 hours ago

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

The very hungry sea anemone

14 hours ago

The surprising culinary preferences of an abyssal sea anemone have been unveiled by a team of scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

How Virginia is preparing for the next quake

18 hours ago

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the commonwealth in 2011 was a wake-up call for many Virginians. Originating deep under Louisa County, the quake was felt as far north as Canada and caused significant ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Howhot
not rated yet Nov 21, 2012
This file illustration photo shows an erupting volcano.

This illustrates a pet-peeve of mine. A news article that has a photo of something not related to the story, or a story talking about an image that is not shown. Yahoo-news is notorious for this. Ex: "A comet was seen striking Venus" but no picture of it.

Physorg has a picture of some un-named volcano. How about googling images for Mount Ruapehu instead of some stock photo.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.