Whakaari/White Island is experiencing moderate volcanic unrest and the Volcanic Alert Level is raised to Level 2.
Our heightened monitoring of Whakaari as part of the response to recent earthquake swarms has shown an increase in sulphur dioxide gas flux to historically high levels.
A gas flight today detected 1886 tons/day of sulphur dioxide, nearly 3 times the previous values measured in May 2019. This is the highest value recorded since 2013 and the 2nd highest since regular measurements began in 2003.
Further gas measurements will be undertaken as soon as conditions allow. Nearby earthquake swarms are continuing although at lower levels than we reported on in previous bulletins. It is still unclear of the relationship of the earthquake swarms to the high sulphur dioxide observed today.
The change in gas flux represents a significant change in our background monitoring parameters at Whakaari and is consistent with moderate or heightened volcanic unrest. As such we have changed the Volcanic Alert Level to Level 2 and the Aviation Colour Code is raised to Yellow.
Volcano Alert Level 2 is mostly associated with volcanic unrest hazards with potential for eruption hazards.
GNS Science and the National Geohazard Monitoring Centre continues to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island for further signs of activity.
Media Contact: Volcanologist Brad Scott (07 3748211)