Search for Ter­races con­tin­ues

Rotorua Review - - OUT & ABOUT - LEITH HUFFADINE

Prepa­ra­tions are un­der way to carry out radar imag­ing to find out if the Pink and White Ter­races near Ro­torua are still in­tact un­der­ground.

Re­searchers claimed in June they had found the site where the ter­races had been buried by Mt Tarawera erupt­ing 131 years ago, and called for a full arche­o­log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to con­firm if the ter­races had sur­vived.

Rex Bunn and Dr Sasha Nolden’s re­port was pub­lished in the Journal of the Royal So­ci­ety of New Zealand ear­lier in 2017. Bunn said their claims had been re­viewed ‘‘strin­gently’’.

They be­lieved the ter­races were about 10-15 me­tres be­neath the ground near Lake Ro­tom­a­hana, and it out­lined how they would pro­ceed with ex­am­in­ing the wider site.

Bunn said he could con­firm the imag­ing us­ing ground pen­e­trat­ing radar would go ahead, but he would not re­veal when.

Imag­ing that con­firmed the ter­races were in­tact would be of in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est, Bunn said. Be­cause of that, he was be­ing cau­tious and avoid­ing spec­u­la­tion about the fu­ture of the project.

If the ter­races were found to be even par­tially in­tact, only then could the next step of core drilling be con­sid­ered.

‘‘The ad­vice I got from the ge­ol­ogy com­mu­nity was to go straight to core drilling [of the site] but I wanted to take it stepby-step and be a lit­tle more con­ser­va­tive,’’ he said.

‘‘So I’ve in­sisted that we do radar sur­vey­ing first. It seemed to me that was non-in­va­sive as op­posed to drilling down through an eighth won­der of the world.

‘‘Frankly when a ge­ol­o­gist first sug­gested we drill through the white ter­race I nearly had a heart at­tack - it’s like drilling through the Mona Lisa just to see what the paint is.’’

Imag­ing was ex­pected to take ‘‘some days’’ as there were three ter­race sites to cover up to three quar­ters of a kilo­me­tre apart.

The orig­i­nal site of the white ter­race was the size of a city block and about six storeys tall. If radar imag­ing and core drilling re­turned pos­i­tive re­sults, the next step was ex­ca­va­tion.

But Bunn said that was jump­ing too far ahead and wanted to fo­cus on imag­ing. Even if they could con­firm the ter­races had been com­pletely de­stroyed, that would be a pos­i­tive out­come, he said.

It would pro­vide cer­tainty to the 131 year mys­tery.

Re­searchers be­lieve the ter­races are about 10-15 me­tres be­neath the ground near Lake Ro­tom­a­hana.

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