You realise just how fragile the world truly is when the ground beneath your feet is smoking and bubbling.
I have had the privilege of seeing the devastation that a volcano can cause when I visited Mount St Helens in the USA in 1998 – many years after it had erupted in 1980…incredible to see a mountain collapse…if you have not seen a video of this eruption, please do look at this link. I have also been fortunate to visit Mount Etna in Sicily and Mauna Loa in Hawaii – thankfully none were erupting at the time but evidence is all around to show just how our world is still being created to this day!
New Zealand lies where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates collide on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. The country experiences regular earthquakes (much like those seen in Christchurch in the last few years) and volcanic activity which is there for all to see in the Taupo Volcanic Zone – which is growing each year. There are advantages to this such as the fertile soils and the harvesting of thermal energy for heat and electricity…but it all comes with a big WHAT IF?
Where Lake Taupo (616 square km) now sits was a huge volcanic eruption in 181 AD…it sent ash 50km into the sky and the effects of creating a red sky is recorded as being visible in China and in Europe. It is impossible to really imagine. Mount Ruapehu to the south of Lake Taupo is the tallest mountain in the north island and is an active volcano…WHAT IF?
I went to Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland between Taupo and Rotorua where the ground smokes and bubbles all around you. Strange that even here, you see a stark beauty at what nature can deliver…the smell of hydrogen sulphide dominates Rotorua’s air but look beyond that and admire the colours and formations and there is so much to be amazed by in this fascinating landscape as steam rises all around you, mud bubbles, the Lady Knox geyser erupts (albeit forced) each day and the world changes in front of your eyes.
When will the next major eruption strike? Where will it be? Will we know ahead of time? Can anyone really be sure? Until then, let’s marvel at the beauty of nature and respect its sheer power…and if it happens, I think I’d rather either be a long way away…or perhaps right next to it!