A short-lived, steam driven eruption occurred from Upper Te Maari crater on 6 August 2012. This was the first eruption from Te Maari (Tongariro) since 3 February 1928. However the largest historic eruptions from Te Maari occurred in late 1896 and early 1897.
120 years ago today (25 January), locals reported the initiation of an eruption from Upper Te Maari, which was preceded by felt earthquake activity. Ash fell on a coach travelling between Ohingaiti and the Whanganui River on 26 January 1897, causing restricted visibility. This eruption was the first since 21 December 1896.
In the night prior to the first eruptive outburst in 1896, more than 140 earthquakes were felt by the local population at Tokaanu. A series of eruptions started at Upper Te Maari crater on 13 November 1896, extending through to October 1897. After 11 days of “not…much sign of activity”, Upper Te Maari crater erupted again on 24 November 1896. In addition to Ngauruhoe, Red Crater reportedly “held fire dances”. Ash-producing eruptions occurred most days between 24 and 30 November 1896, with stronger eruptions on 27 and 30 November.
Eruptions continued on the morning of 1 December 1896, and throughout early December. On 11 December 1896, roaring and thundering noises were heard for “some” minutes apparently coming from the crater, but aside from a blue-coloured gas in contrast to the white steam emitted from Ketetahi, no sign of an eruption was seen. An eruption column was observed on 15 December 1896, lasting for 15 minutes, and was reported to have a dark-red glow at the base, lightning in the column, and incandescent blocks/bombs ejected on parabolic paths. Local reported The countryside was coated in ash to a depth of several inches, weighing down vegetation. Extensive ash fall, was also observed in Napier. Upper Te Maari crater was reportedly still active on 21 December 1896, “ejecting steam, ashes, and smoke”.
View of 21 November 2012 eruption
View of 21 November 2012 eruption from Emerald Lakes
Published as per News Images attached to News Item