Monday, July 2, 2012

Snow season - watch out for volcanoes!

Winter has come, the snow has fallen and people are heading up to Mt Ruapehu for some fun. Now while this is great, and so pretty (this pic is from our webcam this morning) its also important to remember underneath all of that white stuff is an active volcano!

Now I'm not wanting to put you off going up there - its just like all of the hazards in NZ - just do a little research and be prepared!

One of the major hazards on the mountain in an eruption is a lahar = a  "mudflow" - a mixture of 
volcanic ash, rocks and water.

The last eruption on Mt Ruapehu was in September 2007, during this eruption explosions spread ash, rocks and water across the summit area, producing lahars in two valleys including one in the Whakapapa ski field.  In March 2007 the dam at the crater lake failed and produced a really big lahar :

If a volcanic eruption does occur at on the mountain an audio siren and message will sound from a series of speakers located around the ski area, immediately move to higher ground and out of valleys. Stay in a safe zone until you receive further instructions from Ruapehu staff.

Mt Ruapehu, the Department of Conservation and GNS Science have all worked together to produce volcanic hazard maps of Ruapehu and Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas:

So check them out before you head up the mountain!

Mt Ruapehu 1996

GeoNet monitors Mt Ruapehu (along with other volcanoes in NZ) with 3 web cameras, 10 seismographs and 6 microphones to detect volcanic explosions, frequent water chemistry and airborne gas measurements, and 8 continuous GPS stations to detect ground deformation.

For more info on Mt Ruapehu click here and info on the other volcanoes we monitor here.  

Mt Ruapheu website

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