NASA has released an image of the ash plume stretching out from Mt Tongariro shortly after it erupted on Monday night.

The central North Island volcano erupted at 11.50pm, the first time in more than 100 years.

NASA's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of the volcano at 12.55am on Tuesday, which shows the ash plume stretching towards Napier.

The VIIRS includes a "day-night band" that can detect volcanic ash plumes lit by moonlight alone, NASA said.


"It is interesting to note that the ash downwind was lofted fairly high," William Straka, of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin, told NASA.

The first appearance of the ash plume occurred far downwind of Tongariro in thermal imagery because ash was lofted high enough to produce a strong thermal contrast in the atmosphere.

Monday's steam-powered eruption was the first time Tongariro had erupted since 1897. GNS Science are continuing to monitor the volcano, which has not erupted again since Monday.

- Herald Online