Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Recent volcanic activity: New Zealand
So there's been quite a lot of volcanic activity in New Zealand in the past few weeks...
Firstly there was a small eruption on White Island, a volcano in the Bay of Plenty off the coast of New Zealand's North Island. White Island is one of New Zealands tourist hotspots (literally), with multiple boat trips there every day for entrepid explorers to see bubbling acid lakes and mud pools whilst they wander around inside the crater. Not for the faint hearted. The photo of me to the right is from when I visited White Island in 2005. Its true what they say, sulphur hydroxide smells BAD. The recent eruption here was only small, with mild associated seismic activity but I wonder whether this day trips will continue nonetheless? Hmmm... I dont think I'd be happy walking around in a VERY recently active volcano. Would you?
Secondly, when the crater lake of Mount Ruapehu was breached last week a moderate sized lahar was formed. Luckily the emergency response worked "like clockwork" and no one was harmed. For those of you who are unfamiliar with lahars, these are cold volcanic mudflows usually triggered by a sudden release of water mixing with volcanic material causing a flow. Lahars are a comparatively unknown volcanic hazard, but they are one of the deadliest. When Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, erupted in 1985 pumice and other rock debris combined with melted snow and ice to produce lahars which combined to form a 50 m thick flow travelling at over 60 km/hr. More than 23,000 people died, testament to the highly destructive and hazardous nature of lahars.