Volcanic mountains

Ruapehu residents eager to welcome tourists again despite volcanic alert level changes

The mountain is at Volcanic Alert Level 2 and experts from GNS Science are warning people visiting the Tongariro area to stay informed.

Civil defense officials met with Tongariro officials to discuss the ongoing unrest at Mount Ruapehu.

“Level 2 is moderate to intensified unrest. We are more in heightened unrest and that indicates our level of concern,” said GNS Science volcanologist Geoff Kilgour.

Scientists were in over their heads to monitor it on Wednesday.

It’s not safe to land, but they’re taking water samples that show high levels of CO2 and sulfur dioxide. Kilgour said the crater lake is a mirror of what lies below.

“What we’re recording now is 390 tonnes per day, which is the sixth highest level recorded in 20 years, indicating that magma is causing these unrests.”

In its sixth week of high volcanic activity, the temperature of the Te Wai ā-moe crater lake is currently above 39C.

The plume above Mount Ruapehu in recent days spewed 1 kilometer into the air.

GNS Science said a big bang is unlikely, and any initial eruption is likely to be small and localized around the crater lake.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts CEO Jono Dean said it was another challenge after a tough few years, but the tremors trigger advanced warning systems and skiers need not worry.

“The majority of our facilities for the winter season are well outside the 2km exclusion zone in place for Volcanic Alert Level 2, so we are quite confident that if it remains at Alert Level Volcanic 2, there’s no reason it can’t continue to operate.”