Photo by New Zealand Herald
Signs of volcanic activity at Mt Tongariro have settled
overnight, but experts say there could be more and continue to
monitor the mountain for any changes after yesterday's
Thick gray smoke, gas and ash spewed 4km into the sky from
the Te Maari vent on the western side of the mountain, during
the unexpected eruption just before 1.30pm.
It is the same place where Tongariro erupted in August, for
the first time in more than a century.
Yesterday's activity prompted an aviation red alert, which
has since been dropped to orange and the activity alert level
remains at two, with no further recorded sign of eruption
Ash in the sky above the mountain has also dissipated
But experts were continuing to monitor the situation,
including a planned aerial observation to check how much gas
was in the atmosphere and any other changes, said GNS Science
duty volcanologist Nico Fournier.
They were looking for the same signs they usually do
including gas levels and earthquake activity.
Scientists have predicted that another eruption of similar
size could be expected at any time during the next few weeks,
though the activity was not expected to escalate.
"At the moment there are no such signs. It doesn't mean as we
saw yesterday or in August that an eruption could not happen;
it's quite possible," said Dr Fournier.
"It's a sign of concern for any volcanoes when they don't
provide us with any warning."
The department of Conservation has closed the Tongariro
track, which was not expected to be reopened for at least
Dr Fournier advised anyone planning to go to mountains in the
area to first check with the Department of Conservation for
any safety updates.
Groups of school children and trampers were on the mountain
to walk the Tongariro Crossing when the volcano burst into
activity, sending many into shock and awe.
Conditions on the mountain were today largely back to what
they were before the eruption, with the volcano emitting some
steam and gas at the same level it was before the August
activity, said Dr Fournier.
"If the roads are open it's pretty much deemed safe and
everybody's in touch with us."
• Air New Zealand flights to Rotorua are running again as the
ash cloud to the east of the country from Mt Tongariro's
eruption yesterday clears.
Flights to Taupo and Gisborne continue to be affected by
delays and cancellations, but normal services are expected to
resume as the day progresses, said an airline statement.
The airline is working with Civil Aviation Authority, the
MetService and other authorities to monitor the situation and
make adjustments to routes to ensure aircraft remain clear of
Passengers are advised to check the Air New Zealand website
flight arrivals and departures information which will be
constantly updated throughout the day.