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Massey University volcanologists are on Mt Tongariro today taking ash samples that will help understand what type of eruption occurred last night.
Massey’s Volcanic Risk Solutions director Professor Shane Cronin, who is in Indonesia studying the Merapi Volcano at the moment, received the warning late last night and alerted his colleagues, who were on the move within the hour.
Six Massey staff members and two PhD students are currently near the mountain providing scientific support to GNS Science.
Response team leader Dr Jon Procter says they had an initial flight around the volcano this morning to assess the eruption, and now team members were collecting ash samples.
Laboratory analysis of the samples will shed more light on what type of eruption has occurred, he says.
The team also has specialist equipment including infrared cameras and seismographs that will be installed to monitor any on-going volcanic activity, if required.
Professor Cronin, who returns to New Zealand tomorrow night, says if further eruptions occur Massey’s response will scale up and involve up to 20 staff and postgraduate students.