Peter Jackson relied on two volcanoes to serve as stand-ins for Mount Doom, Tolkein's fiery mountain of fate, while filming The Lord of the Rings: New Zealand's Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. Now, geologists are warning locals that the latter may be at risk of erupting.
"The current situation can't continue," said Department of Conservation volcanic risk manager Harry Keys in an interview with Radio New Zealand. "Ruapehu is so active that the temperatures have been going up and down a lot."
"They generally haven't gone up as we've expected for some weeks now and sooner or later that situation will be rectified, either in a small, relatively passive way, or with a significant eruption."
As with most volcanic eruptions, one of the biggest threats posed by Ruapehu (the epic view from Whakapapa, one of the mountain's two ski fields, is pictured above) could come in the form of a lahar — a rushing, avalanche-like wave of ash, mud, gravel and debris, triggered by volcanic activity. In 1953, the volcano unleashed a lahar that caused the worst rail disaster in the country's history, claiming 151 lives in the process.
[AFP via The Telegraph]