Flights get green light as mountain simmers

Last updated 15:38 25/03/2013

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Scientists have lowered the warning level for aircraft flying around Tongariro following a quiet period on the mountain.

GNS Science announced this afternoon it had lowered the aviation colour code for the mountain from yellow to green.

The code is a guideline for civil aviation, and reflects the potential impact of volcanic eruptions on that industry.

The Te Maari area on Tongariro continues to produce steam and volcanic gases and an eruption could still occur with little or no warning.

The Volcanic Alert Level therefore remains at one on a scale of zero to five.

Last week numerous reports were received regarding potential eruptions from Te Maari, but these the result of fine weather conditions and natural variations in steam and gas emissions.

''As soon as the weather gives a good steam plume the phones start ringing. We are all going to have to get used to steaming at Tongariro. It might continue for years and vary substantially from time to time, even if we get no more eruptions," GNS volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said.

Tongariro has not erupted since November 21.

Earthquake activity has been negligible since before the November 2012 eruption and the flux of volcanic gases has remained relatively low and stable for several months.

GNS Science continues to monitor Tongariro for any earthquake activity, makes frequent measurements of volcanic gas concentrations and keeps a close watch for any visible changes.

Aviation colour codes are based on four colours and are intended for quick reference only in the international civil aviation community. Code green indicates that a volcano has no eruptive activity.

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- Manawatu Standard

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