Volcanic Activity

Do you know what to do in the event of volcanic activity? Find out what you need to know, how to prepare, what to do when it happens and also what to do after the event.

New Zealand is situated on the "Ring of Fire", a geographic belt encircling the Pacific Ocean and containing about 90% of the earth’s volcanoes. Volcanoes usually have short active periods, separated by longer dormant periods. The three main types of volcanoes found in New Zealand are cone volcanoes such as Mount Ruapehu; volcanic fields such as the ones found in the Auckland area; and calderas such as Lake Taupo.

Volcanoes produce a wide variety of hazards that can kill people and destroy property nearby as well as hundreds of kilometres away. Hazards include widespread ashfall, very fast moving mixtures of hot gases and volcanic rock, and massive lahars.

Pro Tip!

If a life-threatening eruption is likely to occur, a civil defence emergency will be declared and the areas at risk will be evacuated.

GNS Science is responsible for monitoring volcanic activity and setting alert levels. 

GeoNet continuously monitors New Zealand's active volcanoes. The overall activity for each volcano is quantified by setting an alert level from 0 to 5. Response agencies in New Zealand are notified whenever the alert level changes, and they use it to determine the type and scope of their responses.

It is important if you live in the Bay of Plenty to consider the risk of a volcanic eruption and get ready:

  • Plan ahead. Make a plan with your family, friends and neighbours.
  • Prepare a Getaway Kit. Prepare for if you have to leave home in a hurry by putting together a getaway kit and important documents. 
  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • If a volcanic eruption is imminent, put all vehicles and machinery inside a garage or shed, or cover with large tarpaulins to protect them from volcanic ash.
  • Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters to protect them from volcanic ash.
  • Protect sensitive electronics and do not uncover until the environment is totally ash-free.
  • If you have a disability or need assistance, make contact with your support network and keep informed of civil defence advice.
  • Check on friends and neighbours who may require special assistance.
Pro Tip!

Stay informed! Know how you will stay updated before, during and after an event.

The appropriate actions to take when a volcano threatens depends on level/type of activity and how far you are away. Stay informed and listen to your local radio station for updates.

During a Volcanic Eruption

  • Listen to the radio for civil defence advice and follow instructions.
  • Put your emergency plan into action.
  • If outside at the time of eruption, seek shelter in a car or a building. If caught in volcanic ashfalls, wear a dust mask or use a handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth.
  • Stay indoors as volcanic ash is a health hazard, especially if you have respiratory difficulties such as asthma or bronchitis.
  • When indoors, close all windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash. Place damp towels at thresholds.
  • Do not tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.
  • If you have to go outside use protective gear such as masks and goggles and keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses as these can cause corneal abrasions.
  • Disconnect drainpipes/downspouts from gutters to stop drains clogging. If you use a rainwater collection system for your water supply, disconnect the tank.
  • Stay out of designated restricted zones.
If You are Advised to Evacuate
  • Follow any evacuation orders issued by authorities, and put your Household Emergency Plan into action.
  • Stay out of the impacted area. Effects of a volcanic eruption can be experienced many miles from a volcano.
  • If caught in volcanic ash fall, wear a dust mask or use a handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
If You are Advised to Stay Indoors
  • Close all windows, doors and dampers to keep volcanic ash from entering indoors.
Pro Tip!

Always seek advice of on the best course of action for that specific event

Stay indoors

Stay indoors and away from volcanic ash fall areas if possible. Volcanic ash is very hazardous and the fine, glassy particles can increase the health risks for children and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.

  • Stay Informed! Know where to go for information and listen to your local radio station for updates.
  • Look after your family, friends and neighbours.
  • Close all windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash. Place damp towels at thresholds.
  • Do not tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.

If you have to go outdoors

  • If you have to go outside use protective gear such as masks and goggles and keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses as these can cause corneal abrasions.
  • When it is safe to go outside, clear roofs of ash fall. Do not remove ash by using water. Ash is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse, especially if made wet by rain. Exercise great caution when working on a roof.
  • Avoid driving in heavy ash fall. Driving will stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles. Abrasion can damage moving parts, including bearings, brakes, and transmissions.
  • Keep animals away from ash fall and possible hot spots. Wash animals’ paws and fur or skin to prevent them from ingesting or inhaling ash when they groom themselves.
  • Disconnect drainpipes/downspouts from gutters to stop drains clogging. If you use a rainwater collection system for your water supply, disconnect the tank.
  • Stay out of designated restricted zones.

 

Volcanic ash can have major affects on towns, cities and farmlands.

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