"The simplest task like sourcing food could potentially be impossible, bridges could be out, the roads will be slippery with ash and power and cellphone coverage could be down.". The Umutekai record also suggests that there is a larger eruption approximately every 500 years, the last occurred in 1655. It takes only three millimetres of ash to short circuit a powerline and with Stratford - and its power station - downwind of the predominant easterly wind Taranaki has numerous points of vulnerability. The largest known eruption of Taranaki in recent centuries was a major explosive (subplinian VEI 4) eruption around 1655. Agriculture will suffer in an eruption with ash covering grass and causing respiratory issues with livestock. "Historically the mountain has had periods where it's done that," Taranaki's civil defence controller Shane Briggs says. While eruptions have not occurred at regular intervals, on average there has been a moderate-sized eruption every 340 years, with numerous small ones. In Taranaki agriculture will grind to a halt as plants struggle to absorb sunlight and livestock won't be able to eat the grass buried under a thick carpet of ash. GNS has had monitoring equipment on and around the mountain since 1991 and they record around 250 earthquakes every year, but none related to the volcano. The last … However, he remains optimistic that when an eruption does finally come it won't be the end of Taranaki. University of Canterbury professor in disaster risk and resilience Tom Wilson reckons the next time it erupts it could be severe. The last major eruption of Taranaki occurred around 1854. Mt Taranaki is well overdue to blow its top and when it does erupt the effects on the region will be disastrous. "Put simply it's not going to kill everyone. More concerning than the frequency of these eruptions, is that they have often occurred in swarms semi-continuous eruptions over many years. Jeremy Wilkinson reports on Taranaki's ticking timebomb. Wilson says every volcano has a personality of its own but scientists had mapped many different eruption scenarios which Civil Defence planning was modelled from. The last, recorded in 1755 but possibly followed up with a further eruption in the early 1800s, formed the present cone on Taranaki. ​"Serious eruptions will affect sunlight, turning days into nights, penetrating the soil surface and affecting photosynthesis which will in turn affect plant growth and the local climate.". For Taranaki people, looking too and talking about their maunga is such a daily part of their lives it is easy to forget they live in the shadow of an active volcano overdue for an eruption by more than 100 years. 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