Mount Tongariro

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Mount Tongariro
Tongariro from the air.jpg
Elevation 1,978 m (6,490 ft)[1]
Location
Mount Tongariro is located in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro
Mount Tongariro
New Zealand
Coordinates 39°08′00″S 175°38′30″E / 39.13333°S 175.64167°E / -39.13333; 175.64167Coordinates: 39°08′00″S 175°38′30″E / 39.13333°S 175.64167°E / -39.13333; 175.64167[1]
Geology
Type Complex volcano
Age of rock 275,000 Years [2]
Volcanic arc/belt Taupo Volcanic Zone
Last eruption 21st November 2012 13:50 [3]
Climbing
Easiest route Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Mount Tongariro (/ˈtɒŋɡəˌrɛ.r/; Māori pronunciation: [tɔŋaɾiɾɔ]) is a compound volcano in the Taupo Volcanic Zone of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the southwest of Lake Taupo, and is the northernmost of the three active volcanoes that dominate the landscape of the central North Island.

Geology[edit]

The volcanic massif, often referred to as simply Tongariro, has a height of 1,978 metres (6,490 ft). It first erupted 275,000 years ago.[2] The volcano consists of at least 12 cones. Ngauruhoe, while often regarded as a separate mountain, is geologically a cone of Tongariro. It is also the most active vent, having erupted more than 70 times since 1839, the last episode in 1973 to 1975.[4]

Activity has also been recorded at other vents in recent history. Te Māri Craters erupted in 2012, for the first time since 1897. Red Crater last erupted ash in 1926 and contains active fumaroles. There are many explosion craters on the massif; water has filled some of these to form the Blue Lake and the Emerald Lakes.

Andesitic eruptions tend to form steep stratovolcanoes with layers of both lava and tephra, including mountains such as Tongariro. The high altitude and severe alpine climate between March and October cause snowfall in the winter, and rain can freeze, causing verglas (with commercial ski-fields at neighbouring Mount Ruapehu), while in the mid to late summer, the mountains can be bare apart from odd patches of snow in south-facing gullies. Of all North Island regions, the Volcanic Plateau is closest to having a continental climate.[5]

History[edit]

Mount Tongariro is in the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's first national park and one of the earliest in the world. It was set aside (literally "made sacred") in 1887 by Te Heuheu Tukino IV (Horonuku), paramount chief of the Māori Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi and made a national park in order to preserve its natural beauty. The park also includes the peaks of Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, both of which lie to the southwest of Tongariro. The national park is a dual World Heritage Site for its outstanding natural and intangible cultural values.

The popular hiking route called Tongariro Alpine Crossing passes between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

Mount Tongariro and its surroundings are also one of the several locations which Peter Jackson chose to shoot the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

2012 Te Māri eruptions[edit]

NASA satellite image of the August 2012 eruption, from Suomi NPP

At 11:50 pm (NZST, UTC+12) on 6 August 2012, Mt Tongariro had what was initially believed to be a hydrothermal eruption after a month of increased activity. The eruption occurred at the Te Māri Craters,[6] which had been dormant since 1897.[7]

The eruption occurred in a new vent below the Upper Te Māri crater, and sent blocks as big as 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) in size up to 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the vent.[8]

An ash cloud 6.1 kilometres (3.8 mi) high deposited ash into the surrounding area, especially to the east of the volcano. The ash cloud travelled 250 kilometres (160 mi) in four hours. NIWA reported the ash cloud contained about 10,000 cubic metres (350,000 cu ft) of ash, and that the ash cloud was 25 kilometres (16 mi) long and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) wide 39 minutes after the eruption. Ash and the smell of sulphur was reported in Napier and Hastings.[9] The smell of sulphur was also reported in Wellington, Nelson and Blenheim.[10]

State Highway 1 to the east and State Highway 46 to the north of the mountain each received up to 5 centimetres (2.0 in) of ash cover, and were closed until the following morning due to ash and low visibility.[11] A layer of ash 10–15 mm thick settled on farmland 5 to 10 kilometres (3.1 to 6.2 mi) east of Mount Tongariro. Particle sizes were between 2 and 3mm. The airspace within a 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) radius of the mountain was closed after the eruption, but later reopened to visual flights only. Air New Zealand cancelled some flights in and out of Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne, Napier, Wanganui and Palmerston North due to the risk of volcanic ash clogging the engines on their aircraft serving those airports.[12]

No injuries were reported, and the only significant property damage was to the Department of Conservation's Ketetahi Hut, which is located 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) west of the Te Māri Craters.[12] There was no official evacuation but 24 people living along State Highway 46 fled their homes for fear of being isolated.

Mount Tongariro erupted again at 1:20pm on 21 November, ejecting an ash cloud 4000 metres into the air.[13][14] Flights in the area were cancelled, as were several the following morning.[15] Geologists had no warning before the eruption, saying it wasn't linked to warnings the week before of elevated activity at nearby Mount Ruapehu.[16][17]

Images[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tongariro". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0401-08%3D. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  2. ^ a b "About Tongariro". GeoNet Hazards Monitoring Network. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mt Tongariro Erupts Again". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Eileen McSaveney, Carol Stewart and Graham Leonard. Historic volcanic activity: Tongariro and Ngāuruhoe, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Updated 2007-11-05. Accessed 2008-01-01.
  5. ^ Malcolm McKinnon "Geology and climate - Volcanic Plateau region". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. November 30, 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tongariro erupts, alert level raised". GeoNet. August 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Volcanic Alert Bulletin TON-2012/03". GeoNet. July 21, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Volcanic Alert Bulletin TON-2012/10". Geonet. August 8, 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tongariro eruption: 1km ash radius". The New Zealand Herald. August 7, 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Tongariro eruption: Sulphur smell in Blenheim". Stuff.co.nz. August 8, 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Scientists: Tongariro eruption 'unexpected'". 3 News. August 7, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Eruption activity subsided for now - civil defence". Television New Zealand. August 7, 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "VIDEO: Mt Tongariro erupts, huge ash cloud". 3 News NZ. November 21, 2012. 
  14. ^ Williams, Dave; Robson, Sarah (November 21, 2012). "More Tongariro eruptions forecast". Nz.news.yahoo.com. Newswire. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Flights cancelled after Tongariro eruption". 3 News NZ. November 22, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Scientists had no warning before Mt Tongariro eruption". 3 News NZ. November 21, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Ruapehu eruption more likely". 3 News NZ. November 26, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]