Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake: Steam plumes as lake heats 

This morning, steam plumes have been visible above Mt Ruapehu’s Crater Lake. The lake temperature is now 37 ºC as part of a heating episode that began around 2-3 September 2016. No seismic or acoustic activity has been recorded this morning, indicating the steam plume was not generated by activity in the lake. The Volcanic Alert Level for Mt Ruapehu remains at Level 1 (minor volcanic unrest) and the Aviation Colour Code also remains unchanged at Green.

The active crater at Mt Ruapehu is occupied by Crater Lake. Crater Lake displays temperatures that typically range between about 15 and 40 °C and the phases can last between about 9 and 20 months. The lake cooled to a minimum of 12 °C in mid-August and then remained at 13-14 °C until early September when it started to heat again. Based on past experience, as the lake continues to heat up, more occasional steam plumes can be expected. This is often controlled by atmospheric conditions near the mountain.

There have been no local volcanic earthquakes or changes in the levels of volcanic tremor this morning on the GeoNet instruments at Ruapehu. GNS Science volcanologists continue to closely monitor Ruapehu through the GeoNet project.


Posted by 30 September 2016 15:58:00

Ruapehu Crater Lake: Rapid turn around in lake temperature 

From GNS - 7 September

In early August we discussed the possibility of the post 1995/1996 Crater Lake reaching a new low temperature as the lake was cooling strongly at that time. The lake reached a new minimum temperature of 12.0 °C on 15 August. For much of August the lake temperature ranged 13-14 °C, occasionally looking like it maybe going to turn and start heating. The temperature was starting to rise, very slowly, in late-August, but with quite a bit a lot of variability. However by 2 September a rising trend was clearly established. The lake temperature is now 17.6 °C.

On May 11 2016 the lake reached a high of 46°C, the highest we have observed since it reformed in 1999-2000. This high temperature was also accompanied by volcanic tremor and an increase in the output of volcanic gas. The Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) was raised to Level 2 at that time, lowering to Level 1 in early July when the gas output and volcanic tremor levels declined. About 2 days after the lake temperature stared to rise on 2 September, the level of volcanic tremor also started to rise and has remained present since 4 September. The heating and cooling cycles are controlled by a mix of volcano and geothermal processes. Further sampling and visits to the Crater Lake are planned as the weather allows, being part of the standard GeoNet monitoring programme for Mt Ruapehu.

Posted by 12 September 2016 18:21:00