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The Daily Volcano Quote: the eruption cloud of Tarawera, 1886 1 April 2009

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Riding home, weary and covered with mud, we halted to gaze upon one of the most glorious sights man could view. We stood in a light-timbered grove just outside the belt of the ashcovered plain, the setting sun at our back. Away and away in our front for miles lay the scene that not long since looked like snow, but now, reflected on it, the rays of the setting sun gave it the aspect of red coral. But, above all, there rose in solemn grandeur the towering mass of steam—thousands upon thousands of feet it ascended, until its crown was lost in the bright, fleecy clouds that came rolling up from the south. Bright, aye bright with the full effulgence of the orb which was still high above the horizon there; but lower, the dazzling brightness waned, and a faint glint of a golden hue was seen, to be rivalled by the richer colours and deeper gold of the nether parts until they deepened and sank through rose to carmine, and deeper hues suffused the base and the far-reaching crimson plain, while the deep greens of the bush in which we stood made up a picture difficult to equal, impossible to excel. And thus from earth to sky rolled the ever-changing mass of steam, rent at the base with the up-rush of countless geysers, imparting to it changing and varying tints, beautiful and transient; but above, calm, solemn, and gorgeous, and apparently immovable. Slowly the deeper tints crept up, and left the base white and beautiful in the light of the bright full moon, while the crown still reflected the deep soft tints of a sun which had long since set with us.

J. A. Pond & S. Percy Smith, ‘Observations on the eruption of Mount Tarawera, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, 10th June, 1886’, Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, vol. 19 (1886), pp. 362-3.

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1. Erik Klemetti - 1 April 2009

I surely do have a soft spot in my heart for any of the Tarawera eruptions. If you haven’t see some of the deposits from the 1886 eruption, it is well worth your time if you’re on the North Island, especially the Waimangu Geothermal Valley.

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