The real life “Mount Doom” is likely to blow, according to a warning put out by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC), which told hikers to stay off the summit until further notice. The eruption could also hamper the world premier of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, depending on the time of the eruption.
The DOC believes from recent temperature readings that the volcano will likely erupt in the coming weeks. Mount Ruapehu’s crater is usually filled with a snow-melt lake and scientists have found a strange difference in temperature between the lake and the ground beneath it, prompting the warning.
Volcanologist Steven Sherburn stated in an alert bulletin released by GNS Science, a New Zealand geologic hazard monitoring organization:
“We think that the temperature a few hundred meters beneath Crater Lake is about 800 Celsius [1,472 degrees Fahrenheit], but the lake itself is only about 20 C [68 F]. This suggests the vent is partly blocked, which may be leading to a pressure buildup beneath Crater Lake.”
The International Business Times notes that the pressure buildup from the Mount Doom stunt double makes it likely to blow and could lead to the same series of eruptions that were seen in 2006 and 2007.
Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest active volcano and last erupted in 2007. The eruption propelled a large rock onto the leg of a nearby climber who recovered from the blast after having the leg amputated. The volcano historically has large eruptions every 20 to 50 years and the last large eruptions were in 1995 and 1996.
Ruapehu shares the title of Mount Doom with another New Zealand volcano, Mount Ngauruhoe. While Ngauruhoe was seen in long shots in the film, Ruapehu’s slopes were seen during the scenes that took place on “Mount Doom.”
Ngauruhoe is also an active volcano and last erupted in 1975. As for Mount Doom? The volcano in Mordor last erupted at the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth.