Volcanic Eruption In New Zealand: Radio New Zealand has just given us a first-hand report on the sudden eruption which occurred around 1.25 PM today, daylight saving time, at the Tamari Craters. This is the same site of the eruption which occurred on 6th August this year. Before August, Tongariro had been silent for over 100 years. It has jumped into life again with a bang.
Usually, earthquakes precede an eruption, giving time for people to prepare and leave the area. But this time there were no earthquakes – no warnings.
The Tongariro Crossing, which is a popular tourist track, was open at the time of the eruption, and there were people walking the track, including a television crew and around 90 children on a school exursion. I think it a bit strange that a teacher had taken these children on a trip to the mountains, since we have been getting warnings about the liklihood of Mount Ruapehu blowing up at any time. And since Tongariro already blew up just a few months back, it might have been sensible to exercise caution and avoid taking a large party of school children to the area.
Anyway – No one has been hurt. The Crossing has now been closed by the Department of Conservation, while we wait to see what the mountain does. An orange-alert now applies to the area.
So – the first-hand report: As Mr Green, a resident from Turangi, was driving back home from Taupo, he saw the eruption burst into the sky, going up around 2 kilometres within seconds. The observer said that it was fortunate for Turangi that the ash cloud did not fall on Turangi itself, but was blowing away from the area, presumably towards the coast of Hawkes Bay.
The ash is dispersing, according to Radio New Zealand. However, if you live in the area, you should stay indoors as much as possible and avoid breathing the outside air. Close the windows. Put a scarf around the nose and mouth if you need to brave the elements outside, as the ash is very irritating to the lungs and bronchial tubes. Do not wear contact lenses outside, as the ash is very corrosive and spoils these lenses. Ash may also get underneath the lense, which could damage the eye.
Ash-fall could affect the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, the Waikato and Manawatu areas.
An eruption was imminent: Vocanologists have been warning about the activity within the volcanoes near Lake Taupo for several weeks. Mount Ruapehu, I think, was expected to blow fairly soon. This could still happen.
Perfect timing for the tourist industry, with the skiing season finished for the year: Business on the ski-fields will not be disturbed, even if Tongariro blows again, but volcano-fanatics from around the world will be flocking to the area to witness any new activity.
I hope that the activity is not accompanied by any major earthquakes around the area.
to be continued