Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 55, Issue 8, pp 547–565 | Cite as

Evolution of a vent-hosted hydrothermal system beneath Ruapehu Crater Lake, New Zealand

  • B. W. Christenson
  • C. P. Wood


A two-year chemical monitoring program of Ruapehu Crater Lake shows that it has evolved considerably since the volcano's more active eruptive periods in the early 1970s. The present pH (20°C) of 0.6 is about one half unit more acid than the baseline values in the 1970s, whereas S/Cl ratios have increased markedly owing in part to declining HCl inputs into the lake, but also to absolute increases in SO4 levels which now stand at the highest values ever recorded. Increases in K/Mg and Na/Mg ratios over the 20-year period are attributed to hydrothermal reaction processes in the vent which are presently causing dissolution of previously formed alteration phases such as natroalunite. These observations, combined with results of a recent heat budget analysis of the lake, have led to the development of hydrothermal convection model for the upper portion of the vent. Possible vent/lake chemical reaction processes between end member reactants have been modelled with the computer code CHILLER. The results are consistent with the view that variations in lake chemistry, which are initiated by the introduction of fresh magmatic material into the vent, reflect the extent of dissolution reaction progress on the magmatic material and/or its alteration products. The results also provide insights into the role of such vent processes in the formation of high sulfidation-type ore deposits.

Key words

Volcanic crater lake Fluid-mineral equilibria Reaction path processes Volcanic vent environments 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. W. Christenson
    • 1
  • C. P. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Wairakei Research CentreInst. Geological and Nuclear SciencesTaupoNew Zealand

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