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Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand: Observations on its Crater Lake and Glaciers

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Mt. Ruapehu, the highest summit in the North Island of New Zealand, is a semi-dormant volcano, whose crater lake was responsible for the flood that caused the disastrous railway accident on Christmas Eve, 1953. Since the last eruption of 1945, when mostly ash was ejected, the crater lake that subsequently formed has been contained by a barrier partly composed of lava and partly of névé and ash. It was the breaking through of the latter weaker portion of the dam that was responsible for the flood of mud and boulders which descended via the Whangaehu Glacier and struck the railway 25 miles (40 km.) distant. There is no evidence of eruptive activity having been the cause of the outbreak. During three ascents of the mountain, observations were made of the glaciers, which have been in a state of gradual shrinkage over a number of years. But during the past Summer—a season of exceptional dryness—the process of ablation and wastage has been greatly accelerated, so that immense areas of rock and ash have freshly emerged, and crevasses and dirt-ridges have taken the place of smooth névé or glacier surfaces.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1955-01-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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