Whakatane-based webcam images and monitoring flights confirm continuing steam and gas plumes, and no significant changes in the active crater. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2.
Observations from the Whakatane webcam show that Whakaari/White Island continues to emit steam and gas. Additionally, as the weather allows, we are continuing regular gas measurement and observation flights. The most recent flights last month showed the steam and gas plume continues to originate from the same vent locations as previously observed, with discharge rates in a similar range. There has been no evidence of ash emission or eruptive activity from these vents.
Following the recent severe weather, one of our surviving on-island sites has not recovered. Consequently, we can no longer receive data from the North Rim webcam and the Crater Floor GNSS (GPS) sensor. These were our last remaining reliable sensors on the island. We continue to make regular observation and gas measurement flights to monitor the status of the island (Figure 1). We obtain satellite-based ground deformation data approximately every 10 days that allows us to observe ground deformation trends. These are complimented by daily satellite-based Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) emission measurements, although this technique is not as sensitive as our gas measurements during flights. Neither of these satellite techniques have detected significant changes in the overall activity at the volcano over the past few months.
The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2 (moderate to heightened unrest) and the Aviation Colour Code remains at Yellow, acknowledging the current level of activity, but also continuing to consider the greater level of uncertainty in our interpretation due to the current lack of consistent, useful real-time data.
As the weather allows, we will continue to undertake gas measurement and observation flights over the island until we can service our on-island equipment and power supplies.
The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a forecast of future activity. While Volcanic Alert Level 2 is mostly associated with volcanic unrest hazards (including discharge of steam and hot volcanic gases, earthquakes, landslides, and hydrothermal activity), potential for eruption hazards also exists and eruptions can still occur with little or no warning.
Further information about the Volcanic Alert Levels and what they mean can be found here.
GNS Science’s National Geohazards Monitoring Centre and Volcano Monitoring Group, through the GeoNet programme, continue to monitor Whakaari/White Island for further changes in unrest.
Paul Jarvis Duty Volcanologist
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