Volcanic activity sparks warning in New Zealand

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Wellington, May 11 (IANS) Visitors to one of New Zealand’s scenic volcanoes have been warned to stay clear of the summit after it showed increased signs of possible activity.

The government’s GeoNet monitoring service on Wednesday said the output of volcanic gas from the crater lake on Mount Ruapehu, in the central North Island, was up and the lake water temperature increased from 25 degrees centigrade in April to 45 degrees centigrade in the last two days.

“Taken together these data now indicate more volcanic unrest at Mount Ruapehu. The increased gas output coupled with high heat flow and volcanic tremor imply a higher likelihood of activity,” Xinhua news agency quoted volcanologist Brad Scott as saying.

Ruapehu, part of the central North Island’s volcanic belt and a major ski resort, last showed signs of heightened unrest in 2012 and it erupted in 1988, 2006 and 2007.

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