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Lake Taupo-area scientists in New Zealand raised the alert level of a volcano sitting beneath the country’s largest lake on Tuesday after detecting 700 small earthquakes below the surface since May.
The alert level of the Taupo Volcano, a large caldera volcano located beneath Lake Taupo, was raised to 1 from 0, geological agency GeoNet said in a statement. The agency said that the increase in earthquakes and deformation, or ground movement, indicates volcanic unrest is occurring at the lake.
While this was the first time scientists have raised the alert level of the Taupo Volcano to 1, the agency said there has been 17 previous episodes of volcanic unrest over the past 150 years.
Despite the volcanic unrest and raised alert level, scientists say the chance of an eruption remains very low.
In this file photo, Lake Taupo is seen with Mt. Ruapehu and the Tongariro Ranges in the background in Taupo, New Zealand. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)
“The earthquakes and deformation could continue for the coming weeks or months,” the statement said.
New Zealand’s Volcanic Alert Level system is based on 6 escalating levels. While it is intended to describe the current status of each active volcano, GeoNet said that an eruption may occur at any level and that levels may not move in sequence.
The volcanic peaks of Mounts Tongariro, Ngarruhoe and Ruapehu rise over the shores of Lake Taupo September 28, 2011. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings/File)
The Taupo Volcano last erupted around 1,800 years ago, according to GeoNet, which described it as the most violent eruption in the world in the last 5,000 years.
Orakei Korako, one of the three fault scarps formed about 1,800 years ago during the last Taupo eruption. (Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The explosion unleashed a pyroclastic flow that ravaged an area of about 7,722 square miles, filling the major river valleys of the central North Island with pumice and ash, the agency said.