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Eruption Anniversary – Tarawera, New Zealand

Tarawera, 1886


I mention this little human interest piece mostly because I am especially found of Mt. Tarawera (note: this link goes to the GVP page for Okataina, the volcanic cluster of which Tarawera is a member) in New Zealand. This Tuesday (June 10) is the 122nd anniversary of its most recent eruption, the 1886 eruption that erupted the Rotomahana Basalt. The eruption itself was relatively unique as it was a basaltic eruption that was almost entirely dominated by explosive eruptions of basaltic tephra (see illustration above). This likely means that the basalt was highly enriched in volatiles gases that lead to its explosive eruption through the Tarawera rhyolite domes (previously, all the eruptions at Tarawera had been rhyolitic).


The basaltic tephra buried towns near Tarawera and the famous “Pink and White Terraces” of Tarawera. The eruption spread basaltic ash all the way out to the Bay of Plenty to the north. The eruption ended up putting out over 1 cubic kilometer of basaltic material in a little over a few days, which means that eruption rates during the 1886 event were very high. This eruption is the most recent in the Okataina Volcanic Cluster … and well worth remembering for its uniqueness to the area and its destructive force.


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