New Zealand Volcano Erupts After 100 Years Of Silence

A New Zealand volcano dormant for more than a century has erupted, sending up ash clouds, disrupting flights and closing roads. Mount Tongariro, one of three volcanoes in the centre of the North Island, became active just before midnight local time, with reports of loud explosions, spewing rocks and steam.

The 1,978m (6,490 ft) peak is in a national park popular with hikers. No casualties or damage have been reported after the eruption.

Mount Tongariro last erupted 115 years ago, and scientists said they did not yet know if this eruption was a single event or if it signaled the start of more activity. Experts said they were caught by surprise – they had recorded some seismic activity in recent weeks but were not expecting an eruption.


Eruption activity has currently subsided, New Zealand media said. Meteorologists said the ash was blowing east towards the Pacific Ocean. A number of domestic flights on the North Island had been affected by the volcanic activity, Air New Zealand said. Police said highways that had been closed because visibility was affected after the eruption are now open.

Some residents in the vicinity had temporarily left their homes. Officials have not ordered an evacuation, but advised those affected by the ash cloud to stay indoors and close their doors and windows.

Why do you think the long-dormant volcano suddenly erupted unexpectedly? Do you know of other similar instances somewhere else?

Source: BBC News

Image: The Christian Science Monitor

Last Pinta Giant Tortoise Dies In The Galapagos Islands

Staff at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador say Lonesome George, a giant tortoise believed to be the last of its subspecies, has died. Scientists estimate he was about 100 years old. Park officials said they would carry out a post-mortem to determine the cause of his death.

With no offspring and no known individuals from his subspecies left, Lonesome George became known as the rarest creature in the world. For decades, environmentalists unsuccessfully tried to get the Pinta Island tortoise to reproduce with females from a similar subspecies on the Galapagos Islands.

Park officials said the tortoise was found dead in his corral by his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena. While his exact age was not known, Lonesome George was estimated to be about 100, which made him a young adult as the subspecies can live up to an age of 200.


Lonesome George was first seen by a Hungarian scientist on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1972. Environmentalists had believed his subspecies (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) had become extinct.

Lonesome George became part of the Galapagos National Park breeding programme. After 15 years of living with a female tortoise from the nearby Wolf volcano, Lonesome George did mate, but the eggs were infertile. He also shared his corral with female tortoises from Espanola island, which are genetically closer to him than those from Wolf volcano, but Lonesome George failed to mate with them. He became a symbol of the Galapagos Islands, which attract some 180,000 visitors a year.

Galapagos National Park officials said that with George’s death, the Pinta tortoise subspecies has become extinct. They said his body would probably be embalmed to conserve him for future generations.

What could have caused Lonesome George’s death? What could be his death’s impact to our environment? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: BBC News

Image: National Post