Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dare I risk another Kaboom

If you thought one volcanic eruption was bad, try for three and at night. On June 10, 1886, New Zealand saw Mount Wahanga erupt which was then followed by Mount Tarawera and the mountain's twin cone Ruawahia.

This event destroyed the North Island's biggest tourist attraction. Tourists came from all over the world, by ship, to look at the beautiful travertine terraces which were formed by geothermally heated water cascading down the hill slope leaving the pink and white silica deposits. These terraces enclosed pools of water with the White Terraces being the larger of the two formations. The Pink Terraces were where the visitors would go to bathe.

The White Terrace
After the eruption, a crater over 100 metres deep was all that was left of the Terraces. This crater gradually filled with water to form a new Lake Rotomahana, 30 metres higher and larger than the old lake but on February 3, 2011, scientists found what was left of one of the Terraces.

Only part of the Pink Terraces were left seen in sonar images scanned by underwater vehicles as a pinky, sediment-covered staircase rising one to two metres from the lake-bed and running for a length of about 70 metres.

The Pink Terrace

The original sets of terraces were at different locations on Lake Rotomahana - pink on the western bank and white on the northern end. Scientists will now try for seismic mapping of the lake floor, penetrating the deep sediments to see if any more of the terraces still exist.

The village of Wairoa was also buried but was excavated and the area is now ringed in poplar trees that have grown from fence posts buried in the eruption.
The White Terrace
While there was little notice of the eruptions to come, earthquakes only a few hours before the event there was another sign. Tourists were ferried across the lake visit the Terraces. On one journey the guide, Sophia Hinerangi, saw a mysterious phantom war canoe appear out of the mist.

The high priest of the Tuhourangi tribe interpreted this as a warning. He feared the terraces were being exploited as a tourist attraction without due regard to the ancestral values.

The priest, Tuhoto Ariki, survived, dug from his buried house four days after the eruption. Sophia's house which did not collapse, sheltered many survivors.
The Pink Terrace
The domed mountains split apart and the fissure extended down the mountain, through the Terraces, from Rotomahana to Waimangu 10 kilometres away. The roar of the eruption was heard as far away as Christchurch and Auckland.

Mount Tarawera today.
Tarawera still stands on part of the series of fault lines, with 10 craters along the line of the rift that split the mountain.


River said...

I was reading this thinking how awful to have this happen so soon after the earthquakes; then I checked back and saw the eruptions happened in 1886.
The terraces are very, very pretty.

Andrew said...

'The village of Wairoa was also buried but was excavated and the area is now ringed in poplar trees that have grown from fence posts buried in the eruption.' Really?

JahTeh said...

River, every time I write about an earthquake or eruption, it happens so I'm getting cautious. Can you imagine sailing from England or America to see what were called 'the eigth wonder of the world' in the 1880s?

Andrew, it is fanciful but I liked the new growing from the old and put it in. This same site had a boatful of tourists seeing a Maori war canoe full of Maori warriors appearing and disappearing through the mist instead of the lone guide and the one canoe.
Wairoa is a biggie on the tourist route now so it's all romance.

R.H. said...

There's romance and there's the stock exchange, you can survive a collapse of the stock exchange.


JahTeh said...

Toll the Bell, Rochester's been dumped!

Andrew, after the eruption, the government moved in and acquired the land, traditional owners are still trying to get it back.

Davoh said...

Hang about .. am wondering how long it will be before the Fukushima 'disaster' becomes a 'tourist attraction' ... heh.

JahTeh said...

Davo, loonies are touristing Chernobyl but I have a feeling that this part of Japan will slide beneath the waves befoe long.

Middle Child said...

Nothing new under the sun except these days Bob Brown blames everything on not "Global Warming" anymore as the mean temp has gone down in past years but now on "Climate Change" - even the Qld Floods - once there was an ocean at the top of the Blue Mountains - thats what i call climate change!