Tonnes of rock slip from Mt Taranaki

Erosion likely cause of slips

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013
Ash billows into the air on the side of Mt Taranaki on Sunday.
MARCUS LACEY

CLOUDED VIEW: Dust billows into the air on the side of Mt Taranaki on Sunday.

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Tonnes of rocks and sand are believed to have collapsed off Mt Taranaki and into the headwaters of the Stoney River yesterday.

Okato photographer Marcus Lacey said he had seen a number of slips since 3pm and he had caught some pictures of dust clouds caused by them with his camera.

"These big slips always mean a huge abundance of sand will wash down the Stoney River and make large sand deposits up the coast, usually in a northerly direction," he said.

"It's pretty huge when you see those dust clouds.

"My sister spotted the first one at about 3pm and there were definitely four big plumes of smoke between then and 6pm.

"I hope no-one was up there."

Mt Egmont Alpine Club publicity officer Alan Kerrisk said it sounded like the slips were near the Upper Pyramid Stream which had been plagued by erosion.

"It's just encroaching further and further up the mountain," he said.

"When the moisture disappears from the surface of the slopes there's nothing much to hold it down."

Mr Kerrisk said it was an ongoing process that affected a number of areas around the mountain.

"If you're at the right place, you will see these things.

"It's just the porous nature of the surface material on the mountain."

Mr Kerrisk said the clouds of ash formed when it was dry and the wind blew.

In 2010, Taranaki Daily News photographer Cameron Burnell flew over a similar scene after many nearby residents feared there might be a volcanic eruption.

At the time, Taranaki Regional Council rivers manager John Philpott said the erosion appeared to be getting worse.

The council said canyons were rapidly developing that were more than 30-40 metres deep.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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