From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


For sale: One volcano

By MELANIE LOUDEN – Manukau Courier | Monday, 19 March 2007

VOLCANO SALE: Mangere’s Pukaki Lagoon Explosion Crater is for sale.

Pukaki Lagoon Explosion Crater is between 80,000 and 100,000 years old
and is being sold as part of a 62.3-hectare property on Pukaki Rd.

A lake existed in the crater between 70,000 and 80,000 years ago and
it was also used as a speedway circuit in the 1930s.

The sale includes 26 hectares of freehold land circling and sloping
down to 36.3 hectares of leasehold land containing the crater, which
has been farmed in conjunction with the surrounding freehold land.

The Prangley family has owned the freehold land since the 1940s and
has a lessee’s interest in the lagoon crater land under a perpetually
renewable lease from the Pukaki Maori Marae Committee.

Pukaki Marae is on the crater rim.

The committee was granted the lessor’s interest in the land in the
late 1980s after the Waitangi Tribunal’s Manukau claim finding.

Before that the crater was owned by the Auckland Harbour Board under
the 1911 Manukau Harbour Control Act.

The board leased the crater lagoon to George Henning, an Auckland
businessman who drained and dammed it and used the crater’s almost
perfectly circular shape to establish the speedway circuit.

Chinese market gardeners later acquired the crater lease before it was
bought by Alfred Prangley, along with freehold land surrounding it, in

Three generations of the Prangley family have farmed the land and some
of it was subdivided for housing that now surrounds part of the

Owner John Prangley says his family considers itself a joint custodian
with the marae committee of one of Auckland’s most valuable assets.

Mr Prangley says he would prefer to sell the 62 hectares as one lot to
ensure the integrity of the crater is preserved.

“The ideal buyer would be another private owner who respects the
history of the property or a public body such as the Manukau City
Council or Auckland Regional Council, which could work with the marae
committee and convert it into a public park.

He will consider offers on individual lots if the property cannot be
sold as one lot.

The freehold component of the property is zoned rural 3.

Marty Roestenburg from Bayleys Manukau, which is handling the sale,
says the property is suited to lifestyle blocks with the lagoon crater
providing a natural amphitheatre that could become a common recreation

Tenders for the properly close on April 4.

Pukaki Lagoon Explosion Crater erupted in a series of explosions.
Unlike Auckland’s prominent scoria cones, Pukaki is a large circular
crater surrounded by a low, gently sloping ring composed of fertile
volcanic ash.

The crater is well preserved and relatively unspoilt by urban

Pukaki takes its name from a sacred spring in the explosion crater.


The Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico, is a working mine that is known
for its extraordinary crystals. Naica is a lead, zinc and silver mine
in which large voids have been found, containing crystals of selenite
(gypsum) as large as 4 feet in diameter and 50 feet long. The chamber
holding these crystals is known as the Crystal Cave of Giants, and is
approximately 1000 feet down in the limestone host rock of the mine.
The crystals were formed by hydrothermal fluids emanating from the
magma chambers below. The cavern was discovered while the miners were
drilling through the Naica fault, which they were worried would flood
the mine. The Cave of Swords is another chamber in the Naica Mine,
containing similar large crystals.

The Naica mine was first discovered by early prospectors in 1794 south
of Chihuahua City. They struck a vein of silver at the base of a range
of hills called Naica by the Tarahumara Indians. The origin in the
Tarahumara language seems to mean “a shady place”. Perhaps here in the
small canyon there was a grove of trees tucked away by a small canyon

From that discovery, until around 1900, the primary interest was
silver and gold. Around 1900 large-scale mining began as zinc and lead
became more valuable.

During the Mexican Revolution the mine was producing a great deal of
wealth. Revolutionary troops entered the town and demanded money from
the owners. One of them was assassinated when he refused to pay,
causing the mine to shut down from 1911 to 1922.

Just before the mine was closed, the famous Cave of Swords was
discovered at a depth of 400 feet. Due to the incredible crystals, it
was decided to try to preserve this cave. While many of the crystals
have been collected, this is still a fascinating cave to visit. In one
part there are so many crystals on one of the walls, they appear to be
like an underwater reef moving in a gentle undulating motion in an
ocean current.

In April 2000, brothers Juan and Pedro Sanchez were drilling a new
tunnel when they made a truly spectacular discovery. While Naica
miners are accustomed to finding crystals, Juan and Pedro were
absolutely amazed by the cavern that they found. The brothers
immediately informed the engineer in charge, Roberto Gonzalez. Ing.
Gonzalez realized that they had discovered a natural treasure and
quickly rerouted the tunnel. During this phase some damage was done as
several miners tried to remove pieces of the mega-crystals, so the
mining company soon installed an iron door to protect the find. Later,
one of the workers, with the intention of stealing crystals, managed
to get in through a narrow hole. He tried to take some plastic bags
filled with fresh air inside, but the strategy didn’t work. He lost
consciousness and later was found thoroughly baked.

When entering the cave our group is issued helmets, lanterns, rubber
boots, and gloves. One must then be driven by truck into the main
mining tunnel called Rampa Sn. Francisco. While the vertical drop is
approximately 1000 feet, the drive is almost a half mile long. The
heat steadily increases and women have been observed to begin
“glowing”. The truck stops in front of a concrete wall with a steel
door. The intense heat can prevent brain functioning.

At the end of the tunnel there are three or four steps into the
aperture of the cavern itself. It is in this short tunnel. In this
short distance the temperature and humidity goes from being
uncomfortably warm to literally a blast furnace.

Momentarily, the penetrating heat is forgotten as the crystals pop
into view on the other side of the “Eye of the Queen”. The entire
panorama is now lighted and the cavern has a depth and impressive
cathedral-like appearance that was not visible on earlier trips with
just our headlamps.

When inside the great cathedral of crystals, the pressure of intense
heat create a gamut of emotions and perhaps hallucinations. One ca
only remain for a short period of time.

Geologists report that these natural crystal formations are incredibly
complex, yet so simple. They have a magical or metaphysical
personality independent of their chemical structures. There is a magma
chamber two to three miles below the mountain and that heat from this
compressed lava travels through the faults up into the area of the
mine. Super heated fluids carry the minerals the miners are seeking as
well as form the crystals. The mine is ventilated; otherwise, it could
not be worked. Some parts, however, are not air-conditioned, such as
the Cave of the Crystals, and there you feel the heat from the magma
deep below. The fluids travel along the Naica fault, enter voids in
the bedrock, and then form entirely natural structures that are not
easily explained scientifically.

In April 2000, the mining company became confident that the water
table on the other side of the fault had been lowered sufficiently to

When they did this, it is almost as if a magical veil of reality was
breached and an entirely new world was discovered. Two caverns filled
with the Earth’s largest crystals were immediately revealed. More
discoveries are expected to be made in this magical kingdom of intense
natural beauty.

Selenite, the gypsum crystal, named after the Greek goddess of the
moon, Selene, due to its soft white light, is said to have many
metaphysical and healing benefits. Selenite powder has been used
cosmetically for thousands of years to enhance one’s natural beauty.
It is believed that this crystal assists with mental focus, growth,
luck, immunity, and soothes the emotions.

In the News …

February 8, 2001 – Discovery News

The largest natural crystals on Earth have been discovered in two
caves within a silver and zinc mine near Naica, in Chihuahua, Mexico,
according to mine officials. Reaching lengths of over 20 feet, the
clear, faceted crystals are composed of selenite, a crystalline form
of the mineral gypsum.

“Walking into either of these caves is like stepping into a gigantic
geode,” said Richard D. Fisher, an American consultant with the mining
company to develop the discoveries as tourist attractions. Fisher said
that most people can endure only a few minutes in the caves due to
their high temperatures. The smaller of the two, which is about the
size of two-bedroom apartment, is 100 Fahrenheit. The large chamber,
which Fisher describes as the size of a Cathedral, is 150 F. Both are
located approximately 1200 feet below the surface. The mining company
plans to air-condition the caves before opening them to the public
next year, Fisher said. He adds that reducing the heat gradually will
not harm the crystals.

The largest previously known crystals were found in the nearby “Cave
of the Swords”, part of the same mine system. Some of these are now on
display at the Smithsonian Institution. The local government and mine
owners hope to avoid removing any of the new discoveries for museum
displays or private collections, Fisher said.