26 Nov 2012

Tongariro track set to partially reopen

7:35 pm on 26 November 2012

The Department of Conservation (DoC) is aiming to reopen part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Thursday.

Mt Tongariro erupted last Wednesday afternoon - throwing ash into the air and sending walkers, including school children, scrambling down from the crossing.

DoC has completed a risk assessment including looking at where previous eruptions have flung rocks, and will seek the Conservation Minister's assent on Tuesday to reopen the track.

Trampers will be able to start at the Mangetepopo end and take the northern circuit track up to Emerald Lake, from where there is a view of the Te Maari crater that spewed out ash during the eruption.

DoC's Ruapehu area manager Jonathan Maxwell says a 3km hazard zone would remain around the crater but he believes people would be safe outside that zone.

Scientists analyse latest data

Scientists monitoring Mt Tongariro will have a better picture soon of the level of volcanic activity and whether to expect any further eruptions.

GNS Science staff have been observing the mountain since the eruption, and during the weekend drove around the mountain taking measurements of sulphur dioxide emissions.

GNS volcanologist Nico Fournier says they will compare the measurements with those taken both before the eruption last week, and the one on 6 August.

That information will be collated with the data GNS has on earthquakes in the area and on whether the volcano is swelling.

Dr Fournier says analysis of the data is due to be completed on Monday, and once they have all pieces of the puzzle, they will have a better idea of whether to expect more activity from the volcano.