Geoff Kilgour

Whakaari/White Island eruption: update #3

Published: Tue Dec 10 2019 6:00 PM
Volcanic Activity Bulletin
Volcanic Activity BulletinWI – 2019/15
Tue Dec 10 2019 4:20 PM; Whakaari/White Island Volcano
Volcanic Alert Level remains at 3
Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange

Since this morning, the seismic activity has remained weak, yet we continue to see periodic steam and gas driven jetting from the active vent area. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3.

An eruption occurred at Whakaari/White Island at 14:11pm on Monday 9th December, unfortunately with tragic consequences. We express our sincere sympathies with those families affected.

Over the course of today, there are no substantial changes to report. Seismic activity remains weak and there has been no further eruptive activity. We continue to see localised steam and mud jetting from the active vent area.

Our monitoring equipment is functioning well, despite some sites being covered in ash. We successfully completed an airborne gas (CO2, H2S and SO2) survey and made observations of the vent area and eruption impacts. Results of the gas survey will be included in the next information update.

Over the next 24 hours we still estimate an equal likelihood of either no eruption or a smaller/similar sized eruption that would impact the main crater floor, based on our observations and measurements. There is a high level of uncertainty associated with this estimate and we are working to reduce that uncertainty. We also estimate the least likely scenario is a larger eruption. There is an extremely low likelihood of any ash impact to the mainland, but people may smell gas, depending on the prevailing wind direction.

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3. The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

Geoff Kilgour Duty Volcanologist

Media Contact: 07 374 8211 or

GNS Science and our National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island for further signs of activity. Volcanic Alert Level 3 indicates a minor local eruption is in progress.

Enquiries related to the emergency response should be directed to National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA)

More information will be made available within the next 24 hours, or sooner if required.