Published On: Tue, Aug 7th, 2012

Mt Tongariro, dormant volcano in New Zealand, erupts and spews rocks and ash over country

Mount Tongariro, one of three volcanic peaks in the central North Island of New Zealand, roared into life late on Monday night, as craters on the mountain located in a national park near popular hot springs, exploded with bright flashes and thunderous booms.

These latest infra-red satellite images of ash clouds over New Zealand photo/NOAA

Seismic activity has increased in recent weeks causing the nearly 6,500 foot volcano to spew rocks, ash and steam.

Steve Sherburn, volcanologist at New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, said the scale of the eruption was unexpected, as activity at the volcano had been sporadic before Monday’s explosion.

“We haven’t had any activity for several days so to go from what we had seen to an eruption last night was a little surprising,” he said.

A cloud of ash billowed overhead on Tuesday, blanketing the area with a thick, grey carpet of ash.

Flights to and from provincial destinations, including renowned tourist spot Rotorua, were delayed or cancelled on Tuesday, and local highways were closed for a time, but there were no reports of damage or injury.

Meteorologists said the ash cloud was being blown eastwards towards the Pacific Ocean.

The last time Mount Tongariro erupted was in 1897, ending a decades-long period of intermittent activity, and Sherburn said Monday’s explosion could be the start of more such activity in the area.

“At the moment we really don’t know, it could just be a singular event, or it could be the start of a period similar to what we’ve seen historically,” he said.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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