Lowe, D. J., & Pittari, A. (2014). An ashy septingentenarian: the Kaharoa tephra turns 700 (with notes on its volcanological, archaeological, and historical importance). Geoscience Society of New Zealand Newsletter, 13, 1–13.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8826
Most of us are aware of the basaltic Tarawera eruption on 10th June 1886: the high toll on life (~120 people), landscape devastation, and loss of the Pink and White Terraces. But this was not the first time that Mt Tarawera produced an eruption of importance both to volcanology and human history. This edition of the GSNZ Newsletter marks the 700th anniversary of the Kaharoa eruption – its septingentenary to be precise – which occurred at Mt Tarawera in the winter of 1314 AD (± 12 years) (Hogg et al. 2003) (Fig. 1). The importance of the Kaharoa eruption is at least threefold. (1) It is the most recent rhyolite eruption in New Zealand, and the largest New Zealand eruption volumetrically of the last millennium. (2) The Kaharoa tephra is an important marker horizon in late Holocene stratigraphy and geoarchaeology (Lowe et al. 1998, 2000), and in particular helps to constrain the timing of settlement of early Polynesians in North Island (Newnham et al. 1998; Hogg et al. 2003; Lowe 2011). (3) There is a link between the soils that developed on the Kaharoa tephra, the animal ‘wasting’ disease known as ‘bush sickness’, and the birth of a government soil survey group as an independent organisation (Tonkin 2012).
Copyright 2014 The Authors.