Tarawera Volcano | John Seach


Okataina volcanic centre

North Island, New Zealand

38.12 S, 176.50 E
summit elevation 1111 m
Lava domes

The Okataina volcanic centre includes the volcanoes of Tarawera, Haroharo, Mt Edgecumbe, Okareka and Rotoma. Eruptions at Okataina are infrequent but because they are large, there is a significant volcanic hazard.

Tarawera volcano photos by John Seach

lake rotomahana
Lake Rotomahana, Tarawera volcano

Tarawera volcano
Infero crater, the last eruption site at Tarawera volcano - John Seach

waimangu volcanic valley
Waimangu volcanic valley, Tawarera volcano

tarawera volcano
Tawawera volcano

Mt Tarawera
Mt Tarawera fissure - John Seach

tarawera volcano
Fissure from 1886 eruption of Tarawera volcano

The Pink & White Terraces
Cascading into Lake Rotomahana were beautiful silica terraces which attracted people from all over the world.

Te Tarata, (The Tattooed Rock) or the White Terrace was the larger. Covering seven acres, it tumbled to the lake from a from a height of 30 metres, fanning to a frontage of 240 metres.

The terraces of Otukapuarangi, (Fountain of the Clouded Sky) or the Pink Terraces, were smaller and lower.

2012 Earthquake swarm
A swarm of earthquakes occurred at Lake Rotoma on 9th February 2012. The earthquakes had a maximum magnitude of 3.5, and lasted from 5:00-8:30 pm.

1886 Plinian eruption at Mt Tarawera
Tarawera is the only basaltic Plinian eruption for which there are detailed written accounts from eyewitnesses. In 1886 Tarawera volcano destroyed the pink and white terraces during a 4.5 hour eruption. There were few precursory signs of the eruption. One hour before the eruption began at Tarawera there were felt earthquakes. The basaltic Plinian eruption began with a phreatomagmatic phase where gas-rich magma mixed with water 300 meters below the surface.

The first eruption began at 0130 hr on 10th June 1886 when a violent earthquake was followed by a plume which reached 9 km high. During the maximum phase from 0300-0600 hr a 17 km long fissure erupted from Wahanga dome to Waimangu valley. Pyroclastic density currents of mud, ash and steam at Rotomahana which swept over 360 m-high hills and traveled radially 4–6 km from the source.

1314 (1305?) Kaharoa eruption
The 1314 Kaharoa eruption of Tarawera Volcanic Complex was the largest eruption in New Zealand in the last 1000 years (4 cubic km magma). Kaharoa eruption occurred from 7 vents along an 8-km linear zone, with pyroclastic eruptions followed by extrusion of the summit lava domes. The eruptive episode lasted for 4-5 years. The eruptions began with phreatomagmatic explosions near Tarawera summit, followed by a major plinian eruption from Crater vent.

Further reading
Walker, G.P., Self, S. and Wilson, L., 1984. Tarawera 1886, New Zealand—a basaltic plinian fissure eruption. Journal of volcanology and geothermal research21(1-2), pp.61-78.

Cole, J.W., 1970. Structure and eruptive history of the Tarawera Volcanic Complex. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics13(4), pp.879-902.

Okataina Volcano Eruptions

1981, 1978, 1973, 1951, 1926, 1924, 1918, 1917, 1915, 1914, 1913, 1010, 1908, 1906, 1905, 1900, 1896, 1886, 1314, 180?, 300 BC?, 1490 BC, 2880 BC, 5300 BC, 6580 BC, 8050 BC.