Taupō Civil Defence team is encouraging people to remain calm in the wake of a small eruption on Mount Tongariro at approximately 11.50pm on Monday 6 August.
State highways 1 and 46 were closed overnight as a precautionary measure but reopened this morning. No ash fall has been reported in Taupō, Turangi or Mangakino. A small number of properties around Lake Rotoaira and toward State Highway 1 had been covered with between 5-15mm of ash.
GNS Science volcanologists are working with police and the Department of Conservation to monitor the mountain and seismic activity.
GNS science volcanologist Brad Scott says the eruption lasted between 15 and 20 minutes. There was no notable rise in seismic activity before the eruption.
“The eruption itself gave us no warning,” he says. “We’re not seeing an escalation, we’re not seeing more energy being released.”
The eruption came after three to four weeks of unrest at the volcano. It was a steam-driven eruption, which meant no new molten material had come to the surface.
He could not confirm which of the craters the eruption came from, but believed it was one of the upper Te Mari craters.
Department of Conservation spokesman Nic Peet says teams were sent to check the huts around Tongariro this morning to ensure everyone in the area was safe.
Taupō Emergency Manager Phil Parker says people should keep calm as there was no immediate threat posed by the eruption. The wind direction was taking the ash cloud east of the mountain.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was closed until further assessments had been made in the next 24-36 hours. Ski fields on Ruapehu, Turoa and Whakapapa were unaffected and remain open.