Tongariro

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 39.157°S
  • 175.632°E

  • 1978 m
    6488 ft

  • 241080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

27 March-2 April 2013

On 25 March GeoNet reported that Tongariro remained quiet with no eruptive activity being detected since the explosion on 21 November 2012. Steam-and-gas plumes rose from the Te Maari Craters. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Green (second lowest on a 4 four-color scale) and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project



 Available Weekly Reports


2013: February | March
2012: July | August | September | October | November
2008: December
2006: June | November


27 March-2 April 2013

On 25 March GeoNet reported that Tongariro remained quiet with no eruptive activity being detected since the explosion on 21 November 2012. Steam-and-gas plumes rose from the Te Maari Craters. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Green (second lowest on a 4 four-color scale) and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


13 February-19 February 2013

On 14 February GeoNet reported that Tongariro remained quiet with no eruptive activity being detected since the explosion on 21 November 2012. Steam-and-gas plumes rose from the Te Maari Craters, and were unusually strong during the recent weeks possibly due to weather conditions. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow (second lowest on a 4 four-color scale) and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


21 November-27 November 2012

A small eruption at Tongariro's Te Maari Craters occurred at 1325 on 21 November, without precursory events, prompting GeoNet to raise the Volcanic Alert Level to 2 and the Aviation Colour Code to Red. A report at 1730 noted that the eruption appeared to be over; the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Orange.

The eruption occurred in the same area as the previous eruption on 6 August and lasted less than five minutes, although local seismic activity lasted about 15 minutes. GNS staff and hikers saw the eruption. An ash plume rose 3-4 km above the Upper Te Maari crater and produced ashfall across part of State Highway 46 and NE towards Turangi (21 km NE). Two small pyroclastic density currents were produced at the base of the column, to the W and N of the crater, and traveled a limited distance of a few hundred meters downslope. Later that afternoon gas-and-steam plumes drifted SE. On 22 November a sulfur gas odor was reported in Manawatu (S) and Hawke's Bay (115 km ESE), downwind of Tongariro. A substantial amount of gas was emitted during 22-23 November. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow on 23 November due to the absence of emitted ash. On 26 November GeoNet noted that no further volcanic activity had occurred since the eruption, gas flux had decreased, and seismic activity remained low.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


7 November-13 November 2012

On 5 November, GeoNet reported that several teams of scientists had been visiting Tongariro's Te Mari Craters to service portable seismometers (complementing four permanent installations), sample gas vents, and collect samples of ejecta. The report noted that not many earthquakes had been recorded recently, and that the hottest gas vent was 235 degrees Celsius while the others ranged from 95-104 degrees. On 30 October the sulfur dioxide flux was 154 tonnes per day and the carbon dioxide flux was 477 tonnes per day. The volcano continued to actively degas. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (signs of volcano unrest).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


10 October-16 October 2012

On 12 October, the GeoNet Data Centre reported that Tongariro had been degassing after the 6 August eruption from the Te Mari Craters. Gas plumes drifted downwind and were detected a hundred kilometers or more away. During the previous two weeks an odor was noticed in Manawatu (112 km S) and Hawke's Bay (120 km ESE).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


26 September-2 October 2012

The GeoNet Data Centre reported that researchers visited Tongariro's Upper Te Mari Craters on 30 September to sample several of the fumaroles, conduct a carbon dioxide soil gas survey, collect ejecta from the 6-7 August eruption, and photograph the area. They found that the average carbon dioxide soil gas flux was lower than the 27 July measurements; 24 sites had increased fluxes while 20 had decreased. The estimated soil gas emission has decreased from about 5.8 to 2.5 tonnes per day based on these measurements.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


15 August-21 August 2012

GeoNet reported that seismic activity at Tongariro remained low during 14-16 August; weather conditions prevented observations of the craters. There were several reports of gas odors on 15 August, particularly from the Manawatu region (S). On 17 August GeoNet noted that although very minor amounts of ash were emitted in the first few days after the eruption, there had been no significant activity since 6 August. Seismic activity had returned to low levels after the eruption. The Alert Level was lowered to 1 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow (second lowest on a four-color scale).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


8 August-14 August 2012

GeoNet reported that favorable weather allowed GNS Science and Department of Conservation scientists to conduct an observation flight over Tongariro on 8 August. They noted actively steaming vents that were visible at a new crater area formed on 6 August below the Upper Te Mari crater, but low clouds prevented any views above this elevation. Blocks of old and hydrothermally altered lava, as large as 1 m in diameter, ejected by the eruption fell 1.5-2 km from the Te Mari craters area. Falling blocks formed impact craters in the ground in an extensive area to the E and W of the new vents. Most blocks were covered by grey ash but many on the W slopes were not, suggesting that they were ejected after the main ash-producing phase of the eruption.

The scientists also noted that previously steaming ground at Ketetahi and Lower Te Mari crater appeared more vigorous, but there were no obvious major changes. A debris flow generated by the eruption partly filled a stream valley draining N-W from the Upper Te Mari crater area. The deposit had blocked some stream tributaries but most water diverted around the edges. Ash had slumped from the banks into the stream valley, and in other stream valleys ash has been re-mobilized in slurry flows. No lahars were generated by the eruption.

New rock falls were visible around the walls of the new vent area and Lower Te Mari craters and in some stream valley walls near the craters. This suggested that significant ground shaking took place during the eruption. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow (second lowest on a four-color scale).

During 8-9 August seismic activity remained at a low level; only a few small events were recorded. Preliminary analysis of the ash showed that there was little to no new magma erupted. Gas analysis on 9 August revealed emissions around 2,100 tonnes per day of sulfur dioxide, 3,900 tonnes per day of carbon dioxide, and 364 tonnes per day of hydrogen sulfide, confirming the presence of magma below the volcano. During an overflight on 9 August scientists observed minor ash emissions from the vents. Seismicity continued to remain low during 10-14 August. Heavy rains on 12 August caused a lahar to cross State Highway 46, approximately 6 km W of Rangipo.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


1 August-7 August 2012

On 6 August GeoNet reported that volcanic earthquakes continued beneath Tongariro but the size and number had decreased; there were fewer than five events each day. At about 2350 a short-lived (~1-2 minutes) phreatic eruption occurred at the Te Mari craters area, followed by a series of discrete small earthquakes over the next few tens of minutes. The Alert Level was raised to 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Orange (second highest on a four-color scale). An ash plume drifted E and ashfall was reported in areas around the volcano. According to a news article, a GNS Science volcanologist noted that there were reports of "red hot rocks being thrown out of the crater", explosions, and lighting. The article also stated that some people in the Tongariro area had self-evacuated following the eruption. The Desert Road section of State Highway 1 (NE) had been closed due to poor visibility from the ash, and about 5 cm of ash had fallen on State Highway 46, to the N. Some flights to and from Gisborne (210 km ENE), Rotorua (120 NNE), Taupo (60 km NE), and Palmerston North (135 km S) were delayed or cancelled due to the eruption, and Hawke's Bay Airport (110 km ESE) had closed. GeoNet observed that no volcanic tremor occurred in the days preceding the eruption. The last eruption occurred in 1897. [Correction: The last eruption from the Te Mari craters area had occurred in 1896.]

On 7 August white steam clouds rose from the Te Mari craters area but poor weather conditions at the time obscured a direct view of the active vent(s). A few small earthquakes had been detected. A news article stated that alpine guides observed three active vents that appeared to be new.

Sources: Stuff, New Zealand GeoNet Project


25 July-31 July 2012

On 31 July GeoNet reported that seismicity at Tongariro had declined the previous week but increased again during 28-29 July, and as of 31 July, between 3 and 10 events were being recorded daily. The earthquakes were clustered in a zone between Tongariro and the E side of Lake Rotoaira, at 2-7 km depth. The Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow (on a four-color scale).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


18 July-24 July 2012

A sequence of small volcanic earthquakes beneath Tongariro was detected by a few of the seismometers in the permanent network. Earthquakes with magnitudes less than 2.5 were clustered between Emerald Crater (E of the summit) and the Te Mari craters (2 km E east of Ketetahi hot springs on the N flank) at 2-7 km depth. The sequence started on 13 July, soon declined, and then again increased during 18-20 July. The Alert Level was raised to 1 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow (on a four-color scale) on 20 July.

In response to the increased seismicity, GeoNet installed four portable seismographs and conducted gas and spring sampling. During 21-22 July seismicity declined; one event was detected on 23 July. Provisional analysis of the gas samples collected during 21-22 July indicated a marked increase in the volcanic gas component of the typical mix of volcanic and hydrothermal gases. Residents reported a gas odor.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


3 December-9 December 2008

The Alert Level for Tongariro was lowered to 0 (typical background activity) on 2 December. The number of volcanic earthquakes declined to background levels since mid-2008. In addition, regular measurements of volcanic gas levels and the temperature of the summit gas vent showed no changes over the previous two and a half years.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


1 November-7 November 2006

Seismic activity from Tongariro continued to remain elevated during 27 July-1 November. Temperature and gas-concentration measurements from the summit remained normal. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at Level 1 (some signs of unrest).

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


14 June-20 June 2006

According to GeoNet on 14 June, seismic activity at Ngauruhoe (the youngest cone of the Tongariro complex) remained elevated. The Alert Level remained at 1.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


7 June-13 June 2006

According to GeoNet, the number of small low-frequency earthquakes at Ngauruhoe (the youngest cone of the Tongariro complex) increased in the past 3 weeks. On 6 June, the Alert Level was raised to 1.

Source: New Zealand GeoNet Project


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2012 Nov 21 2012 Nov 21 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Upper Te Maari Craters
2012 Aug 6 2012 Aug 7 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Upper Te Maari Craters
1977 Jul 4 1977 Jul 4 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1976 Aug 23 1976 Aug 28 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1975 Feb 12 1975 Feb 23 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1972 Nov 22 1974 Aug 19 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1972 Mar 19 1972 Jun 6 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1969 Jan 21 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1968 Aug 18 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1962 May 24 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1959 Jun 1 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1958 Nov 5 1958 Nov 18 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1956 Jan 11 1956 Feb 11 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1954 May 13 1955 Jun 25 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1953 Dec 28 (in or before) Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1952 Nov 29 1953 Jul Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1951 May Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1950 Jun 16 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1949 Feb 9 1949 Mar 3 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1948 Sep Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1948 Apr 30 1948 May Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1940 Sep 1940 Oct Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1939 Aug Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1937 Jan Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1934 Dec 1935 Feb Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1934 Jun Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1931 Feb 1931 May Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1928 Jul Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1928 Mar 3 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
[ 1927 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1   North flank (Ketetahi)
1926 Dec 21 1926 Dec 30 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1926 Apr 16 1926 Jun Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe and Red Crater
1925 Nov 1925 Dec Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1924 Oct 1924 Nov Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1924 May 22 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1924 Jan 9 1924 Jan 30 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1917 Oct 1917 Nov Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1914 Sep 1914 Oct Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1913 May Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1913 Jan Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1910 Oct 1911 Jan Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1910 Jan Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1909 Mar 1909 Jul Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1907 Nov Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1907 Feb 1907 May Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1906 Mar Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1905 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1904 Nov 22 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1898 Jan Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1897 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1896 Nov 1896 Dec 26 ± 5 days Confirmed 2 Historical Observations NE flank (upper Te Mari Crater)
1892 Nov 30 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations NE flank (upper Te Mari Crater)
1892 Nov 1892 Dec Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1892 Feb 1892 Mar Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
[ 1890 Mar ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1   SSE flank (Red Crater)
1886 Jun Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations NE flank (upper Te Mari Crater)
1885 ± 1 years 1887 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations SSE flank (Red Crater)
1883 Apr 25 ± 5 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (south sub-crater)
1881 Jul 6 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1878 Sep 1 ± 120 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (NW sub-crater)
[ 1875 Oct 1 ± 90 days ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2   Ngauruhoe
1870 Apr 1870 Aug Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe (NW sub-crater)
1869 Aug Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1869 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations NE flank (Upper Te Mari Crater)
1864 Dec 1865 Jan Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1863 1864 Apr Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1862 Jan Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1859 Apr 21 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations SSE flank (Red Crater)
1857 Feb 1857 Mar Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1855 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations SSE flank (Red Crater)
1844 Oct 1845 Jan Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1841 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1839 Feb 1839 Mar Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Ngauruhoe
1500 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology Upper Te Mari Craters
0550 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Ngauruhoe and Red Crater
9350 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 5 Tephrochronology Tama Lakes to Te Mari
9450 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (corrected) Saddle cone area to Half Cone
9650 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 5 Tephrochronology Saddle Cone to Half Cone
9850 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Cole J W, Graham I J, Hackett W R, Houghton B F, 1986. Volcanology and petrology of the Quaternary composite volcanoes of the Tongariro volcanic centre, Taupo volcanic zone. Roy Soc New Zeal Bull, 23: 224-250.

Cole J W, Hochstein M P, Skinner D N B, Briggs R M, 1986. Tectonic setting of North Island Cenozoic volcanism (Tour Guide C1). New Zeal Geol Surv Rec, 11: 5-60.

Graham I J, Hackett W R, 1987. Petrology of calc-alkaline lavas from Ruapehu volcano and related vents, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. J Petr, 28: 531-567.

Green J, Short N M, 1971. Volcanic Landforms and Surface Features: a Photographic Atlas and Glossary. New York: Springer-Verlag, 519 p.

Hackett W R, Houghton B F, 1986. Active composite volcanoes of Taupo volcanic zone (Tour Guide C4). New Zeal Geol Surv Rec, 11: 61-114.

Hobden B J, Houghton B F, Lanphere M A, Nairn I A, 1996. Growth of the Tongariro volcanic complex: new evidence from K-Ar age determinations. New Zeal J Geol Geophys, 39: 151-154.

Hobden B J, Houghton B F, Nairn I A, 2002. Growth of a young, frequently active composite cone: Ngauruhoe volcano, New Zealand. Bull Volc, 64: 392-409.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Lecointre J A, Neall V E, Cleland Wallace R, Prebble W M, 2002. The 55- to 60-ka Te Whaiau Formation: a catastrophic, avalanche-induced, cohesive debris-flow deposit from Proto-Tongariro volcano, New Zealand. Bull Volc, 63: 509-525.

Lube G, Cronin S J, Platz T, Freundt A, Proctor J N, Henderson C, Sheridan M F, 2007. Flow and deposition of pyroclastic granular flows: a type example from the 1975 Ngauruhoe eruption, New Zealand. J Volc Geotherm Res, 161: 165-186.

Nairn I A, Cole J W, 1975. New Zealand. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 22: 1-156.

Nairn I A, Kobayashi T, Nakagawa M, 1998. The ~10 ka multiple vent pyroclastic eruption sequence at Tongariro volcanic centre: Taupo volcanic zone, New Zealand: Part 1. Eruptive processes during regional extension. J Volc Geotherm Res, 86: 19-44.

Shane P, Doyle L R, Nairn I A, 2008. Hetergeneous andesite-dacite ejecta in 26-16.6 ka pyroclastic deposits of Tongariro volcano, New Zealand: the product of multiple magma-mixing events. Bull Volc, 70: 517-536.

Topping W W, 1973. Tephrostratigraphy and chronology of late Quaternary eruptives from the Tongariro volcanic centre, New Zealand. New Zeal J Geol Geophys, 16: 397-423.

Tongariro is a large andesitic volcanic massif, located immediately NE of Ruapehu volcano, that is composed of more than a dozen composite cones constructed over a period of 275,000 years. Vents along a NE-trending zone extending from Saddle Cone (below Ruapehu volcano) to Te Mari crater (including vents at the present-day location of Ngauruhoe) were active during several hundred years around 10,000 years ago, producing the largest known eruptions at the Tongariro complex during the Holocene. North Crater stratovolcano, one of the largest features of the massif, is truncated by a broad, shallow crater filled by a solidified lava lake that is cut on the NW side by a small explosion crater. The youngest cone of the complex, Ngauruhoe, has grown to become the highest peak of the massif since its birth about 2500 years ago. The symmetrical, steep-sided Ngauruhoe, along with its neighbor Ruapehu to the south, have been New Zealand's most active volcanoes during historical time.