Fluoride Action Network

Tongariro: Flights cancelled in wake of eruption

Source: Newstalk ZB | November 29th, 2012
Location: New Zealand
Industry type: Volcanoes


Steam is still coming out of Mt Tongariro.

However no ash has fallen on the roads nearby.

Newstalk ZB’s Annabel Reid is there, and says most people have heeded advice and stayed away from the area.

“There are just a number of warning messages plastered on the Visitor Centre. Ruapehu, of course, the volcanic level increased there last Friday. And now there’s warnings about Tongariro, the Tongariro Crossing has closed. The barriers are up there and no-one’s allowed through.”

The ash plume from the Mount Tongariro eruption is expected to linger today.

The eruption at the Te Maari crater yesterday shot ash several kilometres into the air.

WeatherWatch.co.nz analyst Philip Duncan says because it was only a small eruption and the fact that New Zealand is so skinny, it doesn’t take long for the ash to go out to sea.

“Most of this ash we think would have fallen quite close to the volcano, because there was very little in the way of wind yesterday, and overnight and this morning a similar sort of story. So there could be some lingering, very fine ash in the sky perhaps anywhere east of the volcano, out towards Hawke’s Bay and the Pacific Ocean.”

Scientists believe yesterday’s small eruption on Mt Tongariro is over for now, but are closely monitoring the situation.

The eruption lasted fewer than five minutes although local earthquake activity continued for 15 minutes.

Jonathan Maxwell from the Department of Conservation says a keen eye’s being kept on the situation.

“We’ll know more in the next couple or three days with GNS Science and monitoring activity, and monitoring the gas events and things like that.”

PHOTOS: See images of the Mount Tongariro eruption

AUDIO: GNS volcanologist Brad Scott talks to Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams

The Tongariro Crossing and Northern Circuit tracks remain closed this afternoon, pending a risk assessment following the eruption.

Barriers have been up at the entrance of the Crossing, since yesterday afternoon.

DOC spokesman Brent Guy says it’s unclear at the moment when those tracks will reopen.

“As soon as possible, that’s the only answer I can give you at the moment. We have to wait for a GNS assessment of the geological risk.”

Brent Guy says people with plans to go on walks in the National Park should still go ahead with their plans because there are lots of unaffected trails…


A light dusting of ash fell across part of State Highway 46 and northeast towards Turangi following yesterday afternoon’s eruption.

GNS volcanologist Nico Fournier says the ash will be collected and then analysed at Massey University.

“It’s something we do every time there is a single eruption, we try and collect some ash. So this takes time, it’s not something that we can analyse overnight.”

Nico Fournier says it may also give them a better idea of why the volcano erupted.

The University of Canterbury has sent an initial response group to observe the latest volcanic eruption on Tongariro.

They’ll be on the ground this morning working closely with GNS Science and Massey University.

One of the members, Felix Von Aulock, says they will map eruption deposits.

“We’re going to try to see how far the ash goes, how much ash is there, what the impact of the ash is. And then we’re going to collect some ash and take it back to the University of Canterbury to analyse it.”

Massey University scientists are collecting ash from the eruption to assess potential human and animal health effects.

Farmers are being advised to keep an eye on stock following Mt Tongariro’s eruption.

DairyNZ says ash from the eruption may affect Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

Spokesman Craig McBeth says farmers need to be aware of the risks to animals from ash.

“Ash particles contain fluorine which is particularly toxic to stock, so what Dairy NZ recommends farmers do is in the first instance feed good quality supplementary feed if they have it.”

Craig McBeth says farmers should also make sure plenty of uncontaminated water is provided and if conditions are particularly severe, consider shifting animals out of the region.