7 August 2012
Last updated at 12:17
A New Zealand volcano has suddenly erupted after lying dormant for more than a century, spewing a plume of ash that has disrupted flights, closed highways and turned the nearby landscape grey.
Mount Tongariro volcano, which lies in the middle of North Island, erupted just before midnight on Monday, the first significant activity at the site since 1897. Volcanologists say the eruption took them by surprise, with no seismic activity having been recorded at the volcano before it rumbled back to life.
New Zealand lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Earth's tectonic plates collide, making it an area that is especially prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Civil defence officials say that while the eruption did not result in any lava flows, it did send a cloud of ash 6,100m (20,000ft) into the atmosphere.
Police said highways that had been closed because visibility was affected after the eruption were now open. Officials did not order an evacuation, but advised those affected by the ash to stay indoors and close their doors and windows.
While eruption activity has currently subsided, the clean-up operation has begun in earnest. Meteorologists say the ash is blowing east towards the Pacific Ocean.
The Tongariro National Park is in a sparsely populated area of New Zealand's North Island. The park is a popular tourist destination and formed the backdrop for many scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies.