New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro erupted today for the second time in four months.
The blast happened without warning. Geological and Nuclear Sciences staff had been worried about possible eruption from the next-door volcano, Ruapehu. But nothing from Tongariro.
It’s apposite. The Hobbit is revving up for its premiere next week – and back in 2000, Peter Jackson used Mount Ngaruhoe, technically one of Tongariro’s vents, as Mount Doom.
How it will develop – if it does at all – remains to be seen. The eruption earlier this year lasted for days, dropped ash across my home town of Napier, and sent a cloud of hydrogen sulphide drifting across the North Island. That reached Wellington, where I live now.
Still, it could be worse. It could be nearby Taupo, one of the world’s 50-odd “supervolcanoes”. Taupo last erupted in 186 AD and gave the Romans spectacular sunsets (think about it!). But that blast was a tiddler compared to the real ‘blow’, 27,000 years ago. That mega-eruption sent over 1150 cubic kilometres of debris rocketing skywards, annihilating everything in the central plateau and blowing a great gouge out of the crust.
That’s our real Mount Doom. Kind of funny to realise that today it’s a lake, and a pretty placid one, too.
I wonder what it will be tomorrow?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012