"The stress people were living with in anticipation of another quake led to a whole onset of other problems.". The last … The most recent volcanic activity was the production of a lava dome in the crater and its collapse down the side of the mountain in the 1850s or 1860s. These eruptions are large enough to shower New Plymouth with pumice and rock fragments the size of raisins, producing a deposit up to tens of centimetres thick. Although the 2518m Mt Taranaki, New Zealand's second-highest volcano, has shown little or no sign of activity for two centuries, our new research suggests it has erupted at least once every 90 years on average for the past 9000 years, with a major eruption every 500 years. "Indirect effects are that livestock get respiratory diseases due to ash inhalation," says Massey University agricultural lecturer Huub Kerckhoffs. Convincing farmers to leave their stock and land would be no easy task, former Taranaki Civil Defence controller David Lean says. The University of Canterbury now offers a "master of disaster" qualification which teaches students about the societal and economic consequences that follow a natural disaster. While eruptions have not occurred at regular intervals, on average there has been a moderate-sized eruption every 340 years, with numerous small ones. And while that may offer some comfort it is unclear what would happen if the ongoing destruction of Taranaki agricultural base turned the region's population into economic refugees and forced to flee the province to earn a livelihood. Shane Briggs, Taranaki Civil Defence controller. University of Canterbury professor in disaster risk and resilience Tom Wilson reckons the next time it erupts it could be severe. "Eruptions themselves can last days, weeks, months or years with clean up taking much longer," he says. GNS Science is New Zealand's leading provider of earth and geoscience research and its scientists monitor the mountain for earthquakes - the first tell tale sign the mountain is beginning to stir - but they can also map its past. It's estimated that the volcano has erupted over 160 times in the last … Mt Taranaki is well overdue to blow its top and when it does erupt the effects on the region will be disastrous. The last major eruption was in roughly 1655, while a smaller ash eruption occurred 100 years later. Briggs predicts a host of similar problems could occur in a post-eruption Taranaki. Normally evidence for these types of eruptions cannot be found within soils, so they have been overlooked in past studies on the volcano. Wilson says every volcano has a personality of its own but scientists had mapped many different eruption scenarios which Civil Defence planning was modelled from. Ash layers from previous Taranaki eruptions have been found in lakes near Auckland, Te Awamutu in the Waikato and Tutira, Hawke's Bay. In addition there could be severe problems for farmers, particularly dairy and horticulture, with ash damage to pasture, crops and orchards and ash blocking air filters on milking shed cooling plants, limiting farmers' ability to store milk. Jeremy Wilkinson reports on Taranaki's ticking timebomb. These data are to be used to develop probability models in order to forecast the chances of future events and help authorities and businesses to plan for the next one. Shane Briggs from Taranaki Civil Defence says all hope is not lost for the region when Mt Taranaki finally erupts. ", READ MORE: * Mt Taranaki volcano history revised * Mt Ruapehu certainly active as crater temperature and volcanic tremor rise * Christchurch Dilemmas: Christchurch's mental health crisis  * Massey researchers' new discovery helps plan for volcanic disasters in Taranaki * Volcanologists move to counter Mt Ruapehu myths and public misconception. "Put simply it's not going to kill everyone." "In an eruption we can basically count on Taranaki being pretty much totally evacuated," he says. Since the quake Canterbury has seen a 37 per cent increase in people seeking mental health services and police have seen suicide callouts rise more than 60 per cent. The 2011 Christchurch has given the country an insight into how a population recovers from a significant disaster and what is clear is the recovery takes years. "Farmers may want to stay but there likely won't be any infrastructure, like milking sheds or abattoirs, for them to continue to run a farm. "But if it were to hit now, after winter, it could be a very different story.". "The Christchurch earthquakes for example evolved into a psycho-social issue as well,"he said. Scott, who has 40 years experience in volcano monitoring, says the ash cloud will spread across most of the North Island. Hundreds of waterways flowing from the mountain will also be channelling thousands of tonnes of mud and debris leading to catastrophic flooding and destruction. Overall, Briggs says he doesn't think people are prepared for an eruption. The last major eruption occurred around 1655. Massey University vulcanologist Shane Cronin told the annual Taranaki seismic and volcanic hazards advisory group meeting last week that the mountain's last eruption … "Historically the mountain has had periods where it's done that," Taranaki's civil defence controller Shane Briggs says.
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