Published: Thu Sep 12 2019 3:00 PM
GeoNet keeps a close eye on all active volcanoes in New Zealand (and the Kermadecs). To help us do this we have the New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level System, which defines the current level of activity at each volcano.
The alert levels range from 0 to 5, where level 0 is no volcanic unrest and Level 5 is a Major Volcanic Eruption in progress. We use the NZ Volcanic Alert Level System to communicate with responding agencies, industries, media and the public about the status of the volcanoes.
Do you live near a volcano? To find out what to do before, during and after a volcanic eruption, visit Get Ready.
Levels 1 and 2 relate to volcanic unrest (the volcano is up to something that may lead to an eruption), while levels 3, 4 and 5 relate to eruptions actually happening (the exciting stuff).
Level 0 (Zero): No volcanic unrest
Level 1: We can measure signs of unrest, such as gas, earthquakes or temperature changes
Level 2: We are measuring significant changes and there is an increased eruption potential
Level 3: A small eruption is occurring, with impacts near the vent area
Level 4: A moderate eruption is in progress, with impact beyond the vent and near the volcano
Level 5: A major volcanic eruption is in progress with impact well beyond the volcano
Our volcanoes can erupt at any level, and levels may not move in sequence as activity can change rapidly.
The NZ Volcanic Alert Level system applies to all of New Zealand's active volcanoes and is set by our volcano monitoring team. Data from the GeoNet monitoring networks is used to inform the alert level decisions. Volcanoes are complex, with interactions always ongoing between the magma, gas and fluids of the geothermal systems. These interactions can produce changes that we can measure on the volcanoes e.g. volcanic earthquakes, temperature, gas and water chemistry changes. You can read more on how we monitor our volcanoes here.
You can see the current status of our volcanoes on our website. When a Volcanic Alert Level is changed we put information out in a Volcanic Alert Bulletin (VAB) this is added to our website and sent out to the GeoNet App, Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you are interested, you can read more about the volcanic alert levels and there is lots of information on volcanoes in New Zealand.
Do you have an eruption plan? Visit Get Ready.
Attributable to: Brad Scott – Volcano Information Specialist, GNS Science