New Zealand raises alert level over giant Taupo volcano

New Zealand raises alert level over giant Taupo volcano

The volcanic peaks of Mount Tongariro, Ngarruho and Ruapehu rise above the shores of Lake Taupo on September 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

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WELLINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – New Zealand scientists on Tuesday raised the alert level over a volcano under the country’s largest lake that caused the largest eruption on Earth in 5,000 years, when the last eruption occurred about 1,800 years ago.

Geological agency GeoNet said in a statement that it has detected almost 700 small earthquakes under Lake Taupo, a caldera created by a giant volcano, and has raised the volcanic danger level from 0 to 1.

The volcano warning system is based on six rising swell levels, but Geonet notes that eruptions can occur at any level, and levels may not change consistently as activity can change rapidly.

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The Taupo volcano spewed more than 100 cubic kilometers of material into the atmosphere when it last erupted around 200 BC, devastating much of New Zealand’s central North Island in the pre-human period. Geonet says that this eruption was the largest on the planet in the last 5,000 years.

GeoNet added that this was the first time it had raised the Taupo volcano alert level to 1, but that it was not the first time there had been unrest, and said the chance of an eruption remained very low.

“Earthquakes and deformation may continue in the coming weeks or months,” the report said.

New Zealand sits on the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and experiences significant volcanic activity and earthquakes.

In 2019, the White Island, known as Wakaari, suddenly erupted, spewing steam and ash, killing 22 people and seriously injuring 25, mostly tourists.

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Reporting by Lucy Crimer; Editing: Lincoln Fist

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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