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Small DOC Team to Remain on Raoul

24 March 2006

Small DOC Team to Remain on Raoul

A small DOC team is to remain on Raoul to continue to monitor volcanic activity on the island over the coming weeks.

Department of Conservation Warkworth Area Manager Rolien Elliot said the department had decided to maintain a team of three experienced staff on the island in the short term to continue to monitor seismic and volcanic activity and run the DOC field station.

“GNS Science has advised us that there is continued hydro-thermal volcanic activity on Raoul at this time but staff are not considered to be at risk outside the crater area. They say a magna eruption is unlikely although it cannot be ruled out.”

“We need to have some staff on the island to run the seismograph, which is reliant on generator power, and observe first hand any changes in volcanic activity. This information will be crucial in the next few weeks to enable GNS Science to get a clearer picture of what’s happening with Raoul longer term.”

Ms Elliot said the staff would stay well away from the crater and would follow robust safety and evacuation plans. A MIL 8 helicopter was available in New Zealand for evacuation at short notice, if necessary.

Ms Elliot said having staff on the island was also important to ensure biosecurity measures weren’t breached and for security of the DOC field base and equipment.

“It’s the start of the Pacific yachting season and we need to continue to ensure people don’t land on the island with the risk of rats and other pests being introduced.”

The DOC team staying on Raoul in the short term are Raoul team leader Jim Livingstone, and two experienced Raoul rangers, Shane McInnes and Liz Whitwell. Between them they have the necessary mechanical, medical and meteorological skills, as well as considerable knowledge and experience of the island.

The remainder of the DOC team and GNS Science volcanologists will return on the Braveheart and are due to reach New Zealand early next week.

Levels in the Green Lake have continued to rise from Tuesday at about a metre per day. Seismic activity on Raoul has reduced since the eruption last Friday but remains at a level which is above normal (about 10-20 tremors a day).

ENDS

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