Volcanic paralysis possible in New Zealand: scientists

13:39, April 19, 2010      

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New Zealand volcanologists are warning of "volcanic paralysis" such as that which has hit Iceland could strike in New Zealand, Zealand Press Assocaiton reported on Monday.

Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted on Wednesday, sending a plume of ash 6-11 km into the atmosphere. The huge cloud of volcanic ash has crippled air travel through much of Europe, as it can paralyse jet engines and damage airframes.

Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS) volcanology section manager Gill Jolly said the Iceland situation may seem a long way away but it could happen here.

"The most serious scenario would be a major eruption in or near Lake Taupo or in the Okataina Volcanic Center that includes Mount Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty," the New Zealand Press Assocaiton quoted Jolly as saying.

"Taupo and Okataina have a history of large and violent eruptions, but they are often 1,000 or more years apart. An eruption the size of the last one from Lake Taupo 1,800 years ago could seriously impact at least 200,000 people in the center of the North Island, but fortunately they don't happen very often."

Cone volcanoes in the central North Island posed a more immediate threat, with Mt Ruapehu having small eruptions about every 12 years and larger ones twice a century.

New Zealand had plans in place for volcanic emergencies and state-of the-art monitoring of volcanoes but a major eruption in the North Island could overwhelm large parts of the country, Jolly said.

Source: Xinhua


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