Ruapehu making noise
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Ruapehu, in New Zealand, is starting to show signs it may erupt in the near future. It is a fairly active volcano, last erupting in Septemeber of 2007, but it is also a rather hazardous volcano thanks to the crater lake at the top that could be breached. Combined with the development on the volcano, it is a potent mix.
Now, why would you ever think to develop on an active volcano? Well, good question! There are ski areas on Ruapehu that are built on some of the lahar (volcanic mudflow) deposits on the side of the volcano and some of these lahars are not that old at all, so the likelihood that a new lahar will take out parts of these ski areas are pretty high. Then again, I never put anything past skiers when it comes to doing dumb things for their sport.
Currently, Ruapehu appears to be releasing a lot more volcano gasses - to the point that they are affecting people near the summit while the temperature of the volcano is rising as well. Most of the recent eruptions at Ruapehu have been phreatomagmatic - in other words, magma interacting with water - and relatively minor, all in the VEI 1 range.
While no one knows that the volcano definitely will erupt, it is making enough noise for the government of New Zealand to issue a warning.
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