Ruapehu sleeping but 'extremely unpredictable

06 October 2007 | 08:46 Code : 15512 Geoscience events
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Department of Conservation scientist Harry Keys told NZPA there had been....

  Department of Conservation scientist Harry Keys told NZPA there had been no more volcanic tremors today and he and his GNS colleagues were "getting more relaxed" as the day wore on. However, he described Ruapehu as an "extremely unpredictable" volcano and said it was still possible that further eruptions could happen over the next two or three days. The risk was high to extreme in the crater area. "The only ways we can manage that risk is by saying to people 'don't go up to the crater for a few days'." If people are in the summit area when the mountain erupts they would be very lucky to escape with their lives," Dr Keys said. Skifield operator Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is keen to reopen tomorrow as they are in the middle of the busy and lucrative school holidays. The company said it had taken the "prudent approach" in closing today. Dr Keys said he was "relatively relaxed" about the ski fields reopening tomorrow and the matter would be reviewed again in the morning. Regardless of whether the ski fields opened or not, Dr Keys said the advice authorities were giving the public was that they should not venture above the top of the skifield boundary. There was minimal risk of a small lahar coming down the western boundary of the Whakapapa ski area, but that risk was managed by the alarm system in place on the mountain, he said. "This is possibly the most heavily alarmed volcano in the world, but they can only tell us what the mountain tells us."Ruapehu is a difficult, unpredictable volcano. The risk (on the mountain) is never zero." "Every five or 10 years there are eruptions which are hazardous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time." Dr Keys said scientists would not be heading up to the crater rim for a few days. It was, however, important to get samples of the Crater Lake water to test for acidity and temperature

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