Whakaari/White Island eruption: Update #11

Published: Sun Dec 15 2019 10:30 AM

Volcanic Alert BulletinWI – 2019/23
Sun Dec 15 2019 10:30 AM; Whakaari/White Island Volcano
Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2
Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange

The level of volcanic tremor has remained low during Saturday and overnight at Whakaari/White Island. No further eruptions have occurred since Monday 9 December. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2.

An eruption occurred at Whakaari/White Island at 2:11pm on Monday 9 December, unfortunately with tragic consequences. We are holding those families affected in our thoughts.

Since the eruption on Monday, there has been no further significant eruptive activity. On Friday (13th) evening the volcanic tremor dropped significantly and has remained at low levels.

Overnight web camera images recorded a glow from the vent area, confirming high heat flow is present from the active vent area. This has been confirmed today by an aerial observation this morning that noted an active crater is emitting volcanic gas at a high rate and very high (> 200 °C) temperature.

The latest visual observations confirm that magma is degassing at shallow depths and the situation remains highly volatile. We are updating the eruption probability table, and this will be published on the GeoNet website later this morning. Some monitoring equipment is partially buried under ash and the batteries at one site have failed. This has affected one of our three cameras. We still receive data from the remaining equipment, which allows us to continue monitoring the volcano.

Should moderate-large explosive ash eruptions occur, there is an extremely low likelihood of any potential ash fall affecting the mainland. The steam and gas plume may also reach onshore and people may smell gas, depending on the prevailing wind direction.

We will continue to provide daily updates on activity unless the situation changes. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2. The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

GNS Science and our National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island for further signs of activity. Volcanic Alert Level 2 indicates moderate to heightened unrest with potential for eruption hazards. Enquiries related to the emergency response should be directed to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) more information will be made available within the next 24 hours, or sooner if required.

Geoff Kilgour Duty Volcanologist Media Contact: 021 574 541 or media@gns.cri.nz