Recent gas and observation flights over Whakaari/White Island confirm the level of activity remains low. The primary surface activity is steam and gas emissions from the active vents with minor geysering in two craters. There is no evidence of any eruptive activity. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2.
Observations from the most recent observation flight on 7 February show that the steam and gas plumes continue to originate from the cluster of active fumaroles on the west-southwest shore of the main lake. Discharge rates are weakly elevated with respect to observations at the end of last year, but this is not considered significant. The main lake body remains a lime green colour, while the water level is slightly lower, still isolating a pool in the former 2019 crater. This pool and one immediately to the north are grey coloured as gas and minor geysering activity disturbs the sediments.
Steam and gas plumes can be seen above the island from the coast when local atmospheric conditions allow, and our Whakatāne web camera continues to record these. Based on these coastal observations and our regular flights, there has been no evidence of eruptive activity over the past few months. Satellite- based ground deformation data show no significant changes.
Measured gas emission rates from the gas flight on 24 January 2024 were elevated with respect to observations on 10 November 2013, but this is not considered significant as they remain within typical low-moderate values. Measurements from regular observation flights have recorded a general decline in the temperatures from the larger steam and gas vents through last year, however a small rise to 120 ºC was measured on the latest observation flight.
We will continue to make regular observation and gas measurement flights to monitor the status of the island. These are complemented by satellite-based ground deformation data approximately every 10 days, allowing us to observe ground deformation trends. We also get daily satellite-based sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission measurements, although this technique is not as sensitive as our gas measurement 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, usable real-time data.
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.
Duty Volcanologist: Brad Scott
Media contact: 021 574541 or firstname.lastname@example.org