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DOC Staff View Eruption Site on Raoul

22 March 2006

DOC Staff View Eruption Site on Raoul

The five survivors of the Raoul Island eruption today viewed the crater where their fellow team member Mark Kearney went missing last Friday.

The five DOC staff walked to Mount Moumoukai, accompanied by GNS Science volcanologists, to view the eruption site and Green Lake this morning.

Department of Conservation Warkworth Area Manager Rolien Elliot said this had let the five see for themselves the devastation of the area where their missing co-worker was last known to have been.

“They needed to see first hand the effects of the eruption and the changes to the crater and Green Lake, which is still rising.”

The police agree with the DOC and GNS Science team that the crater area is too active and unsafe for any recovery operation, said Ms Elliot.

The team have reported that the lake level has risen up to two metres since yesterday.

Ms Elliot said the GNS Science volcanologists on the island would continue to monitor the Green Lake from the safe viewing point, as well as seismic data from the island and instruments at Wairakei, in the central North Island.

A decision would be made later in the week as to whether any DOC staff would remain on the island. The expedition vessel is due to leave the island on Friday at the earliest, allowing time to collect more data and make further assessments, she said.

The DOC field station has been assessed and there is no damage from the eruption. The generators are operating, and water and waste water systems working normally.

GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott, who was aboard the Orion flight over Raoul yesterday, confirmed that the DOC field base was out of reach of all but the biggest eruptions on the island.

“In the last 3600 years there have been 15 eruptions on Raoul and only on three occasions were they big enough to produce ash that has reached the site of the hostel.”

The tourist ship Spirit of Enderby is to leave Raoul later today without their passengers having been able to land on Raoul. This boat will also take the two police members of the Raoul team back to New Zealand.

ENDS

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