Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Zealand volcano dormant for more than a century roars back to life

(Reuters) - A New Zealand volcano dormant for more than a century has spewed boulders and spread an ash cloud over the centre of the country, disrupting air traffic but causing no other damage or injuries.

Mount Tongariro, one of three volcanic peaks in the central North Island, 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.

The spew of rocks, fine particles and steam from the snow-capped, 1,978-m (6,490-ft) peak, was caused by a pressure buildup of volcanic gases, volcanologists said, after seismic activity had increased in recent weeks.

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 over the central North Island on Tuesday, blanketing the area with a thick, grey carpet of ash. Read More