NZ’s Mount Tongariro volcano erupts again

By AAP with AG staff 21 November 2012
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A volcano on New Zealand’s North Island has erupted for the second time this year.

MOUNT TONGARIRO ON New Zealand’s North Island has erupted for the second time this year, sending a black plume of gas and ash 2km into the air.

The Department of Conservation (DEC) closed the popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing walking track on Wednesday afternoon, warning hikers to leave the mountain as quickly as possible.

GNS Science, one of New Zealand’s leading geoscience research centres, said a plume of smoke from the Te Maari Crater, on the northern side of Tongariro, was first captured on a web camera at around 1:30pm on Wednesday.

Spokeswoman for DEC Kim TuriaIt, says it the eruption has not become a large-scale search and rescue exercise. “There are no volcanic rocks in the eruption, just ash and gas,” says Kim.

Second eruption for Mt Tongariro volcano

Back in August, the upper Te Maari Crater erupted for the first time in more than a century. The event sent rocks smashing into a trampers’ hut 1km away.

In the aftermath, light ash fell as far as Napier, 122km away from Tongariro, while the smell of gas drifted as far as Wellington.

Tongariro is the northernmost in a series of three volcanic mountains including major ski destination, Mount Ruapehu. Last week, GNS Science warned of increased activity underneath Ruapehu.

Flights over the central North Island are being diverted away from the volcano, while the walking track at Tongariro is set to remain closed until further notice.