Ruapehu Crater lake temperature has increased to over 30 °C and the level of volcanic unrest activity remains low. A minor heating episode has occurred in the last 2 months with monitoring indicators remaining within normal range for this type of activity. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1 and the Aviation Colour Code remains Green.
Since early in December 2022 the temperature of the summit Crater Lake (Te Wai ā-moe) has increased. The temperature peaked at 35.5 °C on 27 December. Currently the lake temperature is 32 °C, remaining hot. This temperature is consistent with heat flow into the lake of about 150-200 MW. As the temperature rose in December the heat input increased to around 400 MW to support the heating phase.
The level of volcanic tremor was slightly elevated mid-late December 2022, however, has remained weak since then. Gas scanning equipment and a gas flight have confirmed an increase in gas output during the lake heating phase. The Crater Lake has also been overflowing during this time.
Analyses of water samples from the lake collected on 21 December 2022 show no changes in the lake chemistry. This indicates that there is no evidence of chemical interaction between magma (molten rock) and the hydrothermal system beneath the lake.
The current low levels of volcanic tremor, the Crater Lake chemistry data, and a peaking of the Crater Lake temperature are consistent with a low level of volcanic unrest at Mt Ruapehu. As a result, 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.
For Duty Volcanologist Media Contact: 021 574 541 or email@example.com