The Mount Tongariro eruption lasted five minutes – Source: John Funnell
Air New Zealand as cancelled a dozen flights this morning following a spectacular eruption at Mount Tongariro yesterday.
The eruption at around 1.25pm yesterday lasted for about five minutes and sent an ash plume 3km into the sky.
No-one was injured following the eruption, but the huge ash plume from the eruption has forced the cancellation of some early morning flights.
Air New Zealand has cancelled 12 flights in and out of Taupo, Rotorua and Gisborne.
The airline says it will continue to assess the situation as the morning progresses.
Some early morning flights from other regional airports will also be affected, it said.
Flights on some other routes are being adjusted so that aircraft remain clear of the ash.
Meanwhile, GNS Science is closely monitoring the activity at the volcano following its eruption.
The volcano was quiet overnight, but more eruptions are predicted over the coming week, and not just at Tongariro.
Senior Volcano Geophysicist at GNS, Steve Sherburn, told ONE News there could be more activity at the volcano in the next few weeks.
“I think for the next week or two weeks at least we’re possibly in a situation where we may get additional activity – it’s really hard to work out. This is the difficulty of dealing with a volcano like Tongariro.”
GNS last week warned of a possible eruption at Mt Ruapehu after pressure began building up under the Crater Lake.
Scientists are now struggling to predict what might happen next.
“One of the key things is there was absolutely no warning of this,” Sherburn said. “The seismic stations we have monitoring Tongariro showed no activity before the eruption at all.
“Nature seems to be throwing us curve balls at the moment.”
Shelburn yesterday said scientists could not rule out that the eruption is linked to recent volcanic activity on Mount Ruapehu.
“We were not expecting this. The stuff at Ruapehu think there’s no link, but maybe there is, maybe we don’t understand it well enough,” said Sherburn.
“We may see several more rumbles over the next few days but because nothing told us this was coming, it was very hard to look forward and say we’ve seen this, therefore there must be another eruption, so I guess we’re like everybody – on the edge of our seats,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority is monitoring the spread of the ash cloud.
“The eruption has extended to about 15,000 feet and the plume will spread out over the central plateau over the next twelve hours or so and then it will dissipate over the next few days,” said Civil Aviation Authority’s Peter Lechner.
Civil defence yesterday issued a warning that an ash cloud could be looming over the central North Island from Waikato to the Hawke’s Bay for several days.
Nearby residents have reported just a light dusting of ash on their properties.
According to GNS, Tongariro is a complex of multiple volcanic cones constructed over a period of 275,000 years.
The active vents include Te Mri, Emerald, North Crater and Red Crater.
There have been five reported eruptions from the Te Mri craters between 1855 and 1897 but they have been dormant until 2012.