A New Zealand family has been evacuated from their Whakarewarewa Village home by a creeping pool of bubbling mud. Susan Gedye said she was woken by “a lot of shaking and jolting” at about 2am on Tuesday 24th June. Outside, a geothermal mud pool was bubbling away spitting boiling mud into the garden.
Rotorua Lakes Council geothermal inspector Peter Brownbridge noted. “There is a fault line running under the bank where the mud pool has formed, sometimes heat flow from the Whakarewarewa Village travels along the fault line and comes to the surface. “Usually this is just in the form of heat and steam, so having the wet mud also being thrown out makes this event unusual.”
The boiling mixture in a mud pool is produced when steam and gas rise in an underground rainwater pond and react with rocks. By sunrise, the hole had encroached further on the residential property.
A barrier was set up to keep people well clear of the mud pool, which grew as land crumbled into the hole. By Wednesday, a shed was in danger of being sucked into the crater but there was little that could be done. The “mud volcano” had grown to three times its original size on Thursday, volcanologist Brad Scott said. Steam venting from the bank was moving towards the house, with authorities monitoring the progress.
Ms Gedye could only guess as to when the geothermal activity would cease.
A similar geothermal event occurred in Whakarewarewa in 2016, taking 10 weeks to conclude.
The Rotorua region has one of the world’s most active geothermal fields, with New Zealand’s tourism website describing the “smell of sulphur, clouds of steam and volcanic activity” as part of daily life in the area.