For many thousands of years volcanoes have on and off erupted in the Taupo Volcanic Zone on New Zealand’s North Island. The eruption that created the Taupo crater lake in its present form happened some 26,500 years ago and is said to have been the largest volcanic eruption on earth in the last 70,000 years. Seeing the huge and peaceful Lake Taupo with its maximum length of 46 km and width of 33 km, one doesn’t immediately think of a crater lake. But when one realizes that it is just that, one can try to imagine how enormous the eruption that brought it about must have been.
The latest eruption of the Taupo volcano dates from around 200 CE; it was the most violent eruption on the face of the earth in the last 5000 years. No human being has seen it, since what is now called New Zealand was still uninhabited at the time.
The smoke clouds in the distance on the trompe l’oeil painting in the picture above, refer to the most recent big eruption in this region: that of the Tarawera volcano which took place on 10 June 1886. That eruption produced a whole series of craters, big and small, for many kilometers around, where the existing underground geothermal fluid could come to the surface. This volcanic activity is still visible even now on fuming mountain slopes, and in colourful crater lakes, bubbling springs and steaming lakes, that are spread over the countryside.
Photo of the week: Waimangu Volcanic Valley, New Zealand 2013