Friday, September 28, 2007

Another volcano eruption for New Zealand

New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu volcano began a sudden eruption Tuesday, spewing mud down a ski slope and forcing police to close nearby roads, officials said.

The minor eruption Tuesday evening on central North Island sent two mud flows, or lahars, down the mountain's slopes, including the Whakapapa ski field, local district council spokesman Paul Wheatcroft said.

The lahar temporarily trapped a snow groomer, and two other ski field workers suffered minor injuries, he said.

Mountain huts may have to be evacuated, Wheatcroft told National Radio, but "at this stage it is not a civil defense emergency."

Vulcanologist Craig Miller said the eruption was "level 2, minor eruptive activity" and the lahars were a "lot smaller" than one earlier this year which released millions of liters (gallons) of water from the mountain's crater lake.

He said roads and rail tracks near the mountain had been closed by police until further notice.
Miller said the eruption had occurred without any warning.

"Looking at our seismic instruments it was ... from nothing to full (eruption) in the space of a minute," he said, adding that such occurrences are "reasonably rare."

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