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New Zealand volcano erupts for first time in over 100 years


A general view of Mt Ruapehu from Waiouru after Mt Tongariro erupted for the first time in over 100 years on August 7, 2012 in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.


Hagen Hopkins

A volcano erupted in a scenic national park in New Zealand Tuesday, spreading ash for miles, disrupting flights, and forcing some living nearby to evacuate their homes, reported the AP.

The good news? No one was injured. 

Mt. Tongariro hasn't erupted in nearly a century, and its sudden spring into action at 11:50 PM Monday night took geologists by surprise, said the New Zealand Herald. 

Although no mandatory evacuations have been ordered, says the Herald, some people have chosen to leave their homes. Everyone has been advised to stay indoors. 

A volcanologist quoted in the Herald warned the eruptions are likely to continue for days — or longer. 

"We don't know how long it could go. It could be a one off or it could go weeks, months years or even a decade," GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott told the Herald. 

New Zealand's GeoNet surveillance website posted a series of updates on the volcano's eruption status on Monday and Tuesday, as well as a map of action around the eruption, which made for rather interesting reading for the geologically inclined. 

The volcanic alert level is now at a 2, which means "Onset of eruptive activity, accompanied by changes to monitored indicators."

As of this writing, the volcanoes' aviation threat rating remained at Orange, which translates into "Volcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption."

Tongariro National Park, the oldest in New Zealand's system, is located in a remote area roughly between the North Island population centers of Wellington and Auckland. 

According to Geonet, the latest series of eruptions at Tongariro before Monday's occured between 1855 and 1897, which the Māori described as "bright red flame through the smoke that would burst and fall like snow."