On Monday 6 August 2012, the North Island volcano, Mt Tongariro, erupted during the night. It had been dormant for over a century. During the previous month there had been a number of earthquakes below it, but the eruption was still a surprise. Because it occurred during the night, it was difficult to see the effects of the eruption until daylight the following morning. What people saw then was volcanic ash everywhere. Practical information was given to help people nearby to keep safe and protect themselves and their belongings. For example, they were told not to drink any water if it came from the roof of their house. People were also told not to use the windscreen wipers on their cars to try to move the volcanic ash since it is very harsh and would scratch the window. They were also encouraged to stay indoors so they wouldn’t breathe in the volcanic ash. Those with asthma or other respiratory difficulties could be badly affected by breathing it in.
The wind has now blown much of the ash away and hopefully the rain in subsequent days will help to wash it away too. The smell of sulphur from the eruption will probably linger for a lot longer.
Scientists cannot tell if this will be an isolated eruption or if there will be more. It is a waiting game for everyone, waiting to see if there will be another eruption. Meanwhile people are urged to take care and keep away from this area.
Mt Tongariro is in the Tongariro National Park. It became New Zealand’s first National Park when local Maori gifted its mountaintops to the people of New Zealand in 1887. Later, the Government added further land. Some of the peaks feature in the film ‘The Lord of the Rings’. National Parks are a wonderful gift to the nation and allow everyone to enjoy their natural beauty.
• to erupt (verb): to burst or force out violently. eruption (noun)
• dormant (adjective): sleeping
• respiratory (adjective): breathing
• subsequent (adjective): following
• linger – (verb) stay for a while
• isolated (adjective): separate or apart from others
• waiting game – waiting time (idiom)
• urged – (verb) persuaded
• peaks – (noun) mountain tops
• feature – (verb) are an important part
• Past perfect – the second and third sentences use the past perfect to show an event before another event in the past e.g. it was dormant after 1897 (first past event) then it erupted last Monday (second past event). This is not a common tense so don’t worry if you have trouble with it. Instead use the time words + simple past to make your meaning clear.
• Passive – information was given… they were told .. people were encouraged… are urged. We use passive when we don’t know who gave the information or it doesn’t matter who gave the information. We can guess in this case that it was an official.
Contributed by Wendy Kissel