This is one of the best world-wide examples of a preserved forest community from the Taupo eruption of 232 AD.
400m from the junction with Barryville Road there is a signpost onto Plains Road. Follow this rough pot-holed road 2.1 km to the end.
Your vehicle will need some good ground clearance.
A grass loop finds a couple of fallen trunks near a crusty interpretation sign.
There are a combination of factors contributing to Pureora’s uniqueness. The climate is superhumid, therefore there is low loss of moisture through evapotranspiration. The abundant rainfall nourishes a high species diversity in a localised area. Eight ash showers in the last 10,000 years have formed light, freely drained pumiceous loam soils, which can support high densities of vegetation. Volcanic activity has also levelled forests, creating new soil for vigorous recolonisation.
This is one of the best world-wide examples of a preserved forest community from the Taupo eruption of 232 AD. Present and past assemblages can be compared by ecologists to form theories of how forests respond to cataclysmic events. Some Pureora trees were turned to charcoal at temperature of 364 degrees Celsius. Some wetter vegetation was protected and leaf litter layers preserved fruits, leaves, seeds and invertebrates. The overlying deposits blocked drainage channels and the waterlogged areas became rapidly anaerobic.
Some of these priceless natural time capsules were nearly obliterated by a bulldozer driver in 1983. Only when his blade kept getting jammed on buried logs did he call for assistance to placate his irritation. And then the paleo-botanists got on board and the importance of the ancient larder was excavated. The seasonal fruits and seeds preserved here have enabled scientists to determine the Taupo eruption took place in late summer and late in the day. And 50 year later than originally thought. These findings do not correlate with the traditional evidence of European and Chinese stories of pink sunsets or Greenland ice cores. These can now likely be attributed to a separate event.
North Island ▷ Waikato ▷ Te Kuiti
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