Whakaari/White Island eruption: Update #10

Published: Sat Dec 14 2019 11:45 AM

Volcanic Alert BulletinWI – 2019/22
Sat Dec 14 2019 11:30 AM; Whakaari/White Island Volcano
Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2
Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange

The level of volcanic tremor has declined significantly 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. Yesterday evening the volcanic tremor level dropped significantly. A very short lived and un-sustained period of ash emission has been observed, however ashfall didn’t extend beyond the active vent area.

We conducted an overflight Friday (13 December) afternoon, confirming small scale gas jetting and steam burst are occurring in the active vents. The hazy and fumy conditions restricted the temperature measurements of the vent area. Overnight web camera images recorded a glow from the vent area, confirming high heat flow.

The combined interpretation of all our data is still 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 may stop functioning over the weekend as batteries run out. However, we are still receiving data from the remaining equipment which allows us to monitor the volcano.

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

We will 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 Authority (NEMA – www.civildefence.govt.nz)

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

Brad Scott

Duty Volcanologist

Media Contact: 021 574 541 or media@gns.cri.nz