Although the mountain has been quiet since Monday small earthquakes are still occurring. Preliminary ash analysis by Professor Shane Cronin from Massey University has found moderate levels of soluble flourine, similar to the ash from the 1995 and 1996 Mt Ruapehu eruptions.
When large volumes of this clothe the paddocks it is consumed by stock as they graze and leads to a nasty and deadly disease called flourosis. Luckily, the ash fall was light and we’ve had lots of rain so there shouldn’t be any problems from Monday night’s eruption.
GNS volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said tests showed little or no new magma in the ash. Therefore it is likely that the eruption is steam driven, but of course we cannot rule out magma altogether.
Stay tuned for the latest updates. These should give you a good flavour for the setting to my nearly released book, Fire in the Mountain.