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Ruapehu: The mountain that will explode

Volcanic Warning
Photo: Ruapehu, the tallest mountain on the North Island, is a massive andesite stratovolcano. The currently active vent is an acidic crater lake near its summit. The volcano has a volume of 110 cubic km and the surrounding ring plain has a similar volume. Photo is looking south across the flank of Ngauruhoe to the September, 27, 1995 eruption of Ruapehu. Photo courtesy of Thor Thordarson.

By Christopher Zinn in Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand
Published: 04 March 2007

Any day now, a massive torrent of mud and rocks is going to roar down the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, on New Zealand's North Island, engulfing everything in its path.
It is one of nature's most awe-inspiring and dangerous threats, known as a "lahar", and it can be far more lethal than lava flows. In Colombia in 1985, 24,000 people were buried alive when a lahar swallowed up the town of Armero, following an eruption by the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Another lahar in 1953 caused New Zealand's worst rail disaster, killing 151 people.

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