Search for Terraces continues
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.