Whakaari/White Island eruption: Update #14

Published: Wed Dec 18 2019 12:15 PM

Volcanic Alert BulletinWI – 2019/26
Wed Dec 18 2019 12:00 PM; Whakaari/White Island Volcano
Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2
Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange

Volcanic tremor continues at a low level and no eruptions have occurred since Monday 9 December. Further eruptions are unlikely in the next 24 hours. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2.

Since the eruption on Monday 9 December, there have been only a few short episodes of minor ash emission close to the volcano. No further eruptive activity has occurred, and the level of volcanic tremor remains low.

The expert judgement made this morning calculated the likelihood of another eruption within the next 24 hours at 20 – 40 % which means another eruption is unlikely over the next 24 hours. Consequently, the distances for GNS Science staff-access zones have remained the same. This will be reviewed again tomorrow. During the past 24 hours, images from some cameras on the island have often been obscured by steam and weather clouds, and by muddy ash. However, this does not reduce our ability to monitor and interpret the status of the volcano.

An explosive eruption from the main vent area remains possible and could still occur with no precursory activity, especially if there is a collapse of unstable material around one of the vents, or if the gas emission decreases allowing groundwater to enter the vent.

Sudden steam/gas eruptions from other active vents are also possible.

Should any explosive activity produce an ash cloud there remains an extremely low likelihood of ash affecting the mainland in the next 24 hours. This ash would be a nuisance only, unless someone has a respiratory disorder. Check with your GP if you are concerned.

Rain washing appears to have cleared some ash off solar panels and monitoring equipment and solar power charging is already occurring. We are still receiving data from the remaining equipment, which allows us to continue monitoring the volcano. Both seismic stations on the island are fully operational and are providing us with round the clock data.

We will continue to provide 24-hour estimates of eruption likelihood to support operations.

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2.

The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

Volcanic Alert Level 2 indicates moderate to heightened unrest with potential for eruption hazards.

The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic activity and is not a forecast of future activity.

GNS Science and our National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island for further signs of activity.

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

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

Michael Rosenberg Duty Volcanologist

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