White Island

Now here was something quite amazing. If you look at the tectonic plates you can see that New Zealand is on the line between the pacific plate and the Australian plate. As you all know this creates tension and results in earthquakes. What I did not know is the giant line of volcanos beneath New Zealand. The biggest lake in the country, lake Taupo, was the result of a big eruption tens of thousands of years ago. That sounds like a long time, but on the earth’s timescale it is one of the most recent big eruptions on the planet!

North of the lake, a small boat ride of the north coast, you find White Island. This island is quite the active volcano, and you can take a boat ride and visit the place! You even get a gas mask, because the acitic acid in the air is annoying to the lungs. Even though there is a risk of eruption, this made me more excited than afraid. The island was also the place of a sulpher mine, the sulpher comes up from the ground and can also be used for a lot of applications. The mine was abandoned after it did not seem profitable, but maybe also because groups of people have died because they were covered in rock and lava… quite the working place!

Another interesting fact is that the main crater lake, which is still steaming hot, has a pH value of -0.6! The guide told us (hopefully it was a joke) that it was the number one spot to dump bodies, since the acid will leave no trace of something being there. I did not think the pH range could go below 1, but apparently it can. From what I have read it is just very difficult to measure. Still, I wouldn’t dare to put my feet in there. The picture reminded a friend of mine of Breaking Bad, which I found quite amusing :)