Mount Tongariro, the volcano used to depict Mount Doom in the Lord of The Rings movies has erupted.
According to a report in the NZ Herald
The eruption came from Te Maari Crater, on the western side of the mountain, shortly before 1.30pm.
A massive plume of ash could be seen coming from the mountain.
GNS Science duty volcanologist Nico Fournier told APNZ the eruption happened about 1.20pm.
“There was one eruption, essentially one explosion, and it was not sustained. It spewed some ash possibly a couple of kilometres up the air. The ash is now drifting to the east-southeast.”
Adrift NZ, which runs tours of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, had around 50 people on the mountain today… more here
The alert level for the volcano has risen from yellow to red, just days before the first of the Hobbit Films premiers in Wellington, New Zealand. Some may say the timing couldn’t be better.
New Zealanders are being warned of ash falls and are directed to Be Prepared: Volcanic Ash Fall for safety information. Civil Defence issued a national advisory saying regions from Waikato down to Hawke’s Bay may be affected by ash cloud.
A report in Stuff said
Genesis Energy was shutting production at its Tongariro hydro scheme site south of Lake Taupo.
Tongariro/Rangipo Prison – which is located near the base of Mt Tongariro, off the Desert Road – was operating as normal at this stage.
Corrections Department central regional manager Terry Buffery said there was no local site impact following the eruption.
”However, robust plans are in place to manage the facility should the situation escalate. Safety is always a priority for staff, prisoners and the public. We are confident in our ability to respond accordingly.” …more here
In August we blogged about magma rising beneath Mt Tongariro, asking it it were linked to a magnitude 7 earthquake 60km south of the Taranaki town of Opunake. It was the largest in the area for 120 years and people from Bay of Plenty to Otago reported feeling it.
The quake went largely unreported outside of New Zealand but the Earthquake Commission received almost 1650 claims.
As yet there have been no reports of casualties, or reports of the eruption causing disruption to air traffic.
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Mount Tongariro Erupts, Ash Cloud Heading East – 7 August 2012