Possible eruption at Ruapehu Volcano in New Zealand

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Thursday, October 5, 2006

A picture of Mount Ruapehu

A volcano alert has been issued after a moderate 2.8 magnitude earthquake occurred at Mount Ruapehu last night at 10.30 p.m. (NZDT). The quake also broke the Crater Lake cable which generated a call-out from the lahar response team.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation has issued a high risk warning for the crater at Mount Ruapehu and Dave Wakelin, community relations officer for Tongariro-Taupo, said: "The warning was issued Thursday morning, in case more volcanic activity follows."

It is yet to be confirmed if there was an eruption, as poor weather made it hard to see the crater from plane. Craig Miller, vulcanologist for Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science), said: "I had hoped to see if the lake was surrounded by blackened snow. All we could see was cloud." Steve Sherburn, duty vulcanologist for GNS Science, said: "The cause of the alert would remain uncertain until the weather cleared and there could be a proper examination. Part of the DOC lahar monitoring system appears to have been damaged at the time of the earthquake which suggests there may have been an eruption, but other monitoring data says that any eruption must have been relatively small." If there was an eruption it was probably only a small one.

The alert level is remaining at one, which means there are signs of volcanic unrest.

Monitoring of Mount Ruapehu will continue.

This was the first reported call-out since 1995.

Sources

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