There has been a rumbling, spewing of ash and sulphur smells filling the air this week. Do I hear you ask where?
Here in New Zealand we have many volcanoes, most dormant, some extinct and some active. As you can see from the map many volcanoes are centred around the middle of the North Island.
On Monday evening one of volcanoes erupted and we are told this was quite unexpected with no seismic activity being recorded in the area. Mt Tongariro in the centre of the North Island decided to put on a spectacular show for us. The last time this particular “dormant” volcano erupted was in 1897 – a decidedly sleeping volcano.
Activity on the volcano settled down during Tuesday although steam was still billowing from the crater. We are told that several new vents were formed during the eruption and today scientists confirm that there are three new crater lakes. I was going to write here “Isn’t Nature wonderful?” but thought it might be read as a snide remark when in fact I meant it.
Rocks fell within 1km of the eruption, damaging one of four trampers’ huts on the mountain, but there have been no reports of injuries. Light ash fell as far away as Taupo and Napier ( about 140 kms) , while the smell of sulphur gas – similar to the “rotten eggs” smell experienced in Rotorua – had drifted to Wellington some 300 kms away.
One of our most active volcanoes is the neighbouring Mr Ruapehu. I remember when Mount Ruapehu erupted in 1995 and again in 1996. In 1995 we were going on holiday and driving past the mountain shortly after it erupted. We were on the Desert Road that runs through the centre of the north island and here the mountain was clearly visible. The ash that was thrown up settled on everything for miles around, including our car. Traffic was stopped until the police determined that it was safe to continue so we had this unobstructed view of nature ‘throwing her toys out of the cot’. But what a magnificent sight it was. We were far enough away not to be in any danger and the police quickly determined it was safe for us to continue.
So while those of us who choose to live here call it “Godzone” we have several natural events to contend with. Recently we have had earthquakes (and they are still continuing) tornadoes, floods and now volcanic eruptions, but Mother Nature keeps us entertained with her various shows of strength and wonderful activities. We are never bored by Mother Nature.