Volcano News

A small but important change to our Volcanic Activity Bulletins (VABs)

Published: Fri Sep 16 2022 10:30 AM

Back in February, we made a tweak to the name of our Volcano bulletins - from Volcanic Alert Bulletin to Volcanic Activity Bulletin. We did this because we think it better reflects the purpose of these bulletins, which go across a variety of topics not just alert level changes.

What has changed?

After considering the Volcanic Alert Bulletins (VAB) current content, its history, other global examples and definitions, we decided that the term ‘activity’ more accurately reflects its purpose, compared to the term ‘alert’. So, our VABs are now Volcanic Activity Bulletins. Interestingly, the name has evolved since the product’s development in 1994 from Science Alert Bulletin (1995-2008) to Volcanic Alert Bulletin (2008-2021) to Volcanic Activity Bulletin (2022-now).

Why make such a small change?

We hope this change will help clarify the purpose of the bulletins. The bulletins do not always notify of an alert level change and the term ‘alert’ can be confused with a ‘warning’, which may signal an imminent danger. Generally, our VABs contain information about the status of activity rather than an eruption.

Will this change how often we see VABs?

To date our VAB’s have tended to focus on volcanoes at VAL 1 or higher although recently we have produced a VAB for Taupō which has been active though it is currently at VAL 0. Previously, we might have put out information via News items on the GeoNet web page – in the future, it’s more likely that we’ll share that information via a VAB.

In the new year we will be introducing regular updates via VAB’s for the many volcanoes at VAL 0. These VABs will be aimed at an annual update.

New Zealand Volcanic Alert Levels at at 16/09/22

New Zealand Volcanic Alert Levels at at 16/09/22

How do I get Volcanic Activity Bulletins?

Our Volcano Activity Bulletins are published on our website here. As well as earthquakes, you can also see Volcanic Activity Bulletins on our GeoNet app, and get notifications when they are published, you can download the app here:
Google Play for Android

The App Store for Apple

We also post them to our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Why do we produce Volcanic Activity Bulletins?

Volcanoes in New Zealand are monitored by our Volcano Monitoring Group. We communicate the status of a volcano by setting the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) for each volcano and inform the responding agencies, stakeholders, infrastructure operators and the public of this status in Volcano Activity Bulletins (VABs).

Read more about the Volcano Monitoring Group and how they monitor our volcanoes here.

This video gives a great overview on what each of the Volcanic Alert Levels mean at our volcanoes.

Although we can’t prevent natural hazards, we can prepare for them – and we should.

The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a forecast of future activity. Eruptions can still occur with little or no warning.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has a great website with information on what to do before, during and after volcanic activity.

Toka Tū Ake EQC have information for preparing your home for natural hazards.

Media Contact: 021 574 541 or media@gns.cri.nz