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Higher risk of "steam-driven" eruptions now expected at Mt Ruapehu

Breaking Volcanic News: New Zealand
March 20, 2007

Scientists say there is now a higher risk of "steam-driven" eruptions at Mt Ruapehu following a lahar down the mountain on Sunday. There has been an increase in volcanic earthquakes in the past two days, which indicates changes to the hydrothermal system under the crater lake. The lowering of the level of the crater could lead to increased heating. A small eruption could generate waves large enough to spill over the rock rim and cause a small lahar. Scientists reached the mountain's summit on Monday morning and confirmed that a tephra dam was completely gone. They also reported that the crater lake is stable. The tephra dam was created by eruptions in 1995-96. A lahar washed down the Whangaehu River Valley about 11am on Sunday, sending 1.3 million cubic metres of water and debris to the sea.


INDONESIA has raised the alert level on Mount Talang, Sumatra Island, after an increase in rising columns of smoke and tremors in the area. The status of volcano activity was raised at 7:00 pm on Monday. The risk of an eruption was brought up from three to four degrees. The smoke reached up to 800 meters (2.672 feet) high. Nearly 41,000 people will be evacuated from the slopes of the mountain should an eruption prove imminent. "There is yet no plan to evacuate them, but we are now preparing in case the alert status is raised." Photo

INDONESIA - the "mud volcano" briefly stopped spewing toxic sludge for the first time in more than nine months. "The flow of mud coming out of the crater suddenly stopped for about 30 minutes shortly before noon (4pm AEDT) on Monday. "None of our team members knows for sure what happened and we are still trying to determine how it happened." The steaming crater, located near Indonesia's second-largest city of Surabaya, merely bubbled during the pause. The temporary hiatus was the first since the mud hole began spewing sludge in May. The pause was probably unrelated to the hundreds of chains already dropped into the mud hole. The brief halt may have occurred because parts of the funnel collapsed, creating a temporary obstruction that was eventually cleared by pressurised gas in the crater. "We were worried that an explosion would follow, but it turned out not to be the case."

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA - a mudslide on the Papua New Guinea volcanic island of Manam has killed four people, prompting authorities to call today for islanders to stay away from the volcano's ash and mud-laden valleys. The four were killed last week in an avalanche of ash and mud on the northern part of Manam Island off Papua New Guinea's north coast, and a fifth person was seriously injured. "After heavy rain that has been experienced, the mud and loose material becomes a major risk for anyone venturing into the potential path of an avalanche." The Manam Island volcano erupted in October 2004, with heavy ash falls destroying houses and crops and contaminating water supplies. Authorities evacuated some 9000 people to the mainland, but many islanders have since returned.

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