Observational data for Mt Ruapehu indicates the level of volcanic unrest activity remains low. Volcanic tremor levels are at typical background levels, lake chemistry and gas data show no changes, and the lake temperature remains warm. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1 and the Aviation Colour Code remains Green.
Over the last 3 months, the level of volcanic tremor has remained weak at Mt. Ruapehu, representing typical background levels. During the same period, the Crater Lake (Te Wai ā-moe) temperature has decreased from around 26 °C in early July to fluctuate between 21 and 25 °C in August and September. Currently the lake temperature is 23 °C. This is consistent with heat flow into the lake of about 150-200 MW.
Available analyses of water samples from Crater Lake (Te Wai ā-moe) have shown no changes in the lake chemistry. This indicates that there has been no evidence of chemical interaction between magma (new molten rock) and the hydrothermal system controlling the composition, level, and temperature of the Crater Lake.
In summary, all monitoring indicators remain at background levels and the potential for eruptive activity is generally decreasing. However, because magma moved to higher levels in the volcano earlier this year and is still present inside the volcano, uncertainty remains around its potential impact on future activity. As a result, whilst declining, the likelihood of an eruption at Mt Ruapehu over the next 3 months still remains higher than it was at VAL 1 in early 2022.
The most likely outcome of the ongoing unrest is no eruption, or minor eruptive activity confined to the lake basin. If this did occur, it could possibly generate lahars (volcanic mudflows) in the Whangaehu River.
The low levels of volcanic tremor, the Crater Lake chemistry data, and a stable Crater Lake temperature are consistent with a low level of volcanic unrest at Mt Ruapehu and therefore the Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1. The Aviation Colour Code remains Green.
Mt Ruapehu is an active volcano and has the potential to erupt with little or no warning when in a state of minor volcanic unrest.
The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest. The Volcanic Alert Level should not be used to forecast future activity.
Volcanic Alert Level 1 indicates the primary hazards are those expected during volcanic unrest: steam discharge, volcanic gas, earthquakes, landslides, and
hydrothermal activity. While Volcanic Alert Level 1 is mostly associated with environmental hazards, potential for eruption hazards also exists and eruptions can still occur with little or no warning. Volcanic Alert Levels 3, 4 and 5 are reserved for eruptions with varying impact distances.
For information on access to the Mt Ruapehu area, please visit the Department of Conservation’s website on volcanic risk in Tongariro National Park and follow the DOC Tongariro Facebook page for further updates.
For information about responding to volcanic activity there are guidelines from the National Emergency Management Agency.
GNS Science and its National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue to closely monitor Mt Ruapehu for further changes.
Brad Scott, Duty Volcanologist Media Contact: 021 574 541 or email@example.com