Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Red Crater in Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the Te Mari crater is on the flank of Tongariro
If you're interested in volcanology then you would have been excited when three volcanoes erupted in New Zealand in the same week. First, White Island erupted on August 5th. It last erupted in 2001; having erupted continuously from 1976. Scientists predict it is waking up again. Whakatane Police received several reports of lightning . GNS Scientist Michael Rosenberg said lightning is common during volcanic eruptions. It is a result of ash generating electricity.
The next night,Tongariro erupted (on Monday 6th August). The eruption appeared to come from Te Mari crater (near the trampers' hut). After spewing ash for a few days it has since quietened down. Heavy rains caused lahars on ash-coated slopes on the mountain. Civil Defense are warning motorists not to stop on State Highway 46 because debris flows have caused dams in a few streams and they fear more lahars.
On August 10th, a large pumice raft was seen floating north of New Zealand. Scientists predict it is a result of a submarine volcanic eruption from one of the many seamounts in the Kermadec arc. One scientist, Erik Klemetti, predicts it comes from Havre Seamount. He says it most likely erupted on July 18th and had finished by July 20th.
Scientists say that the three eruptions are not connected because they are too far apart to share magma. However, the tectonics are from the same subduction of the Pacific Plate slipping under the Australian Plate.
So why am I writing about this... Because my children's book 'Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes' came out two weeks before the eruptions - talk about timing! I talked about the book on Radio New Zealand that following Sunday.