Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

You Call That an Eruption?

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

New Zealand sits at the margin of the Pacific and Australian plates, and their collision makes volcanic activity commonplace. Even so, the eruption this past summer of Mount Ruapehu, on the country’s North Island, was the most spectacular in more than a century. On June 17 the volcano began hurling clouds of ash and billowing smoke 20,000 feet into the atmosphere; chunks of molten rock, some of them reportedly the size of cars, flew hundreds of feet. At one time or another the ash clouds closed 11 airports, and ash that washed into the water intake of one major hydroelectric plant caused $6.5 million in damage. The North Island’s two largest ski resorts, located on the flanks of Ruapehu, were also closed-- right at the beginning of New Zealand’s ski season. Although the skiers stayed home, amateur volcano watchers came from around the globe. Ruapehu has had a very large impact because it was so well covered by the media, with images going out around the world, says volcanologist Bruce Houghton of New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences. But on a global scale the eruption was tiny--perhaps one one-hundredth the size of Pinatubo. We didn’t have a single foreign volcanologist visit.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In