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Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...

 
~Marianne~
01/13/2005 03:39 PM
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Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
50 years on, Tangiwai braces for destruction

11.12.04
By SIMON COLLINS


The railway bridge at the site of New Zealand´s worst train disaster faces a new threat from a huge mudflow expected to burst from Mt Ruapehu´s crater lake this summer or next.

The Conservation Department geologist responsible for planning measures to cope with the mudflow, Dr Harry Keys, said this week that it was "doubtful" whether the rail bridge at Tangiwai, near Waiouru, would survive.

But he was "absolutely confident" no one would die because a warning system had been set up.

On Christmas Eve in 1953, 151 people died when the Wellington-Auckland express train sped on to the bridge at Tangiwai moments after a similar mudflow from the crater lake swept part of it into the Whangaehu River.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1954 at a higher level above the river, and with piles sunk 20m into the bedrock.

It withstood mudflows in 1968, 1969, 1975 and a series of 26 mudflows triggered by the eruption of Mt Ruapehu in 1995.

But it was designed to survive flows only up to 50 per cent bigger than the one that struck in 1953, and scientists believe the one expected this summer or next may be up to 80 per cent bigger than the one that wiped out the previous bridge.

The mudflow, or "lahar", is expected when the water in the crater lake breaks through a 7.4-metre layer of soft sediment laid down over its previous outlet by the 1995-96 eruptions.

The breakout may be gentle if the water seeps out slowly soon after it rises above the pre-1995 rim of hard rock.

It is expected to reach this level late this month or next month.

But if the water keeps rising through this summer and next towards the top of the soft layer, scientists believe it will eventually break out catastrophically.

The weight of water will throw the entire soft layer and 1.5 million cubic metres of acidic water into the Whangaehu Valley in a matter of minutes.

The mudflow will reach within a few metres of State Highway 1 on the Desert Road south of Turangi in 38 to 72 minutes, and will hit Tangiwai between 57 and 91 minutes later.

The Desert Road is unlikely to be flooded because most of it is on high ground, but solar-powered warning lights have been installed north and south of the the Mangatoetoenui and Waikato Streams, the last two streams that the road crosses south of Turangi.

Eight extra police officers have been posted to Waiouru to stop traffic as soon as the lahar starts.

Dr Keys expects the road to be closed for no more than two hours while police check for damage.

State Highway 49 between Waiouru and Ohakune would be closed for longer while engineers check possible damage to the road bridge at Tangiwai, even though it is being raised 2m and reinforced with piles 30m into the rock.

"It won´t be open for at least 48 hours because the structures will have taken the brunt of the lahar," said Ruapehu District Council emergency management co-ordinator Johan Cullis.

But the 50-year-old rail bridge upstream of the road bridge is not being raised, and Dr Keys said it was clearly in danger.

"The railway bridge is interesting because it probably will survive the most likely sized lahar, but it´s doubtful," he said.

"It will survive anything up to warning level 2, equivalent to the one in 1975. It´s designed for lahars 50 per cent bigger than Tangiwai.

"But the most probable one is an 80 per cent bigger discharge, so the scientific opinion is that the railway bridge may or may not survive."

The bridge was bought a few months ago, as part of the rail network, by the Government-owned Railways Corporation.

The corporation´s chief operating officer, William Peet, said the bridge was higher than the pre-1953 structure and had "a significant chance" of surviving.

"From our perspective, the bridge will withstand pretty much anything," he said.

"We have done some work on the approaches, and from our perspective there is no further physical work we could do to protect the railway. We are confident the lahar will pass underneath it."

Warning systems installed upstream will give trains at least half an hour´s warning to stop before the lahar hits.

If the bridge is destroyed, Mr Peet said, the corporation had an emergency bridge that it could put in place "within a few days".

Train operator Toll Rail said it would divert freight trains on to the Taumarunui-Stratford line if the main trunk line was cut at Tangiwai.

But Toll communications manager Sue Foley said the Stratford line was not certified to carry passengers, so people on the sole remaining Auckland to Wellington passenger train, the Overlander, would be transferred to buses around any break in the line.

[link to www.nzherald.co.nz]


Talk about preparing... I remember before when they said that the new bridge would be safe... and how can they now be so sure that no one will get killed? what if the train is running when the lahar strikes? what if the warning system fails as it did last year when they had a fault in the system? Not good at all shroom
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
I was looking at our volcano`s in question yesterday , Ruapehu and ngauruhoe from high up taranaki`s volcanic slope ,
the day was so perfect , no clouds at all just blue sky everywhere , we could see for miles
Ruapahu had a generous coating of snow , while ngauruhoe seemed bare of snow , but both being the same height? wondering if ground temp of Ngarauuhoe is hotter than Ruapahu for this differance?
Mim
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
I was standing at the base of ruapeu with my X when it when balistic in 95 and they shutdown the airways for a few weeks, stuffed up that years ski season too :(.

It was am earth shaking experience.
~Marianne~
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
good question facet.


Wow mim that must have been terrifying.
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
Another good rainfall will do it, If it is a strong down pour , the energy expressed could topple the brigde , as not only having to withstand undermining effect of lahar mud , the bridge also has to stand up to large boulders which will become dislodged by the current, i would rank the odds at 50/50 .
An engineering solution would be best applied here ;
1. the mud could be syphoned out .
2. A channel to drain mud could be made.
3. helicopter bags of quick dry cemment ? .
~Marianne~
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
some engineering students already suggested draining the lahar.. but wasn´t that idea pooh pooed by tptb?
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
Don`t doubt it , tptb shunning a good idea.


just been in geonets site geonet.nz
and there do`es not appear to be any ground temp
probe readings (do we have these?)positioned
around volcano`es ???
looking at Ngaurahoe up close it is indeed dry of ice and snow it even looks a bit hot /when you compare it to Ruapahu .
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
Damn. Just the thought of more dead bloated bodies of Kiwis washing up on beautiful Aussie beaches is disheartening. Maybe Aussie authorities can ´blood´ the waters so ocean predators might dispose naturally of drowned Kiwis.
~Marianne~
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
aw we love you too auzzie *kiss*
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
Must have taken guts M kissing that aussie
here M have a tissue , to wipe that radio active contaminated aussie desert dust off your lips.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
<>

LOL
~Marianne~
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
1rof1 aw well poor auzzies need love as well.. ;)
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
for the love of a red back lurking on the toilet seat,
One little love bite
funnell web spyder up the trouser leg
Oh Well , will have to settle for Oppossum stew tonight.
(soft on the outside , and not very tough on the inside)
~Marianne~
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
glad I ´m not coming to your place for dinner facet ;)
facet
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
its off topic but
NZ was looking at exporting these furry little critters to China ; As Apple eating kiwi tree bears
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
ruapehu almost got me killed in 1990 . i drove up that mountain in summertime .when i was at the top (where nobody was at that time only some deserted chalets ) so i turned the car around and went on my brakes down the mountain of . brakes where getting over heated and i could stop this toyata from dropping faster and faster . 2 choices or the deep in or park the toyo into the mountain wall ,i did the last 1 . toyota didnt survive but me and my brother did .
i is that which i is
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
hi NZs,

Hope you folks don´t live too close to the fireworks, ´case it really gets bad.

We had about a 4.0 eq in Hawaii at 8:15 pm HST last night. No mention of it on the radio, TV, or paper. Shook the house and rattled the dishes for about 30 seconds. No damage.


Peace, light, and love. luv
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
308 ruapehu didnt nearly get you killed, your brakes nearly didnt get you killed, you nearly got yourself killed....quit blaming!!
Mr spock
12/08/2005 10:11 AM
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Re: Kiwis watch out they are warning of Lahar breech at ruapehu ...
Its The Hot grownd you need to watch out for, Cant run if the ground melts.

flower

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