Near real-time monitoring of Whakaari has been lost with the failure of the last surviving seismometer and pressure sensor on the island. We continue to monitor via other, less-frequent methods. The Volcanic Alert Level for Whakaari/White Island remains at Level 1. The Aviation Colour Code also remains at Green.
The monitoring network at Whakaari consisted of two sites with earthquake and pressure sensors (to detect explosive airwaves), three cameras, two SO2 (sulphur dioxide) gas scanners and two GNSS antenna for measuring ground deformation. Since the 9 December 2019 eruption, the on-island network has not been serviced and power supplies, sensors and cameras have degraded or failed over time. Our near real-time capability has been largely reliant on the on-island earthquake and pressure sensors. The first of these failed in April 2021 and the second failed late last week.
The loss of the second earthquake and pressure sensor reduces our ability to closely monitor the volcano in near real-time. Until we are able to service our on-island equipment and power supplies, we will be increasing the frequency of our gas and observation flights to the island.
Our most recent gas observation flight occurred two weeks ago, and the results indicated the level of activity at the island had remained low, with normal fumarole and gas emissions. Since that flight, the seismicity had remained low, and no deformation signals had been recorded. These observations are consistent with low levels of volcanic unrest. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1 and the Aviation Colour Code remains Green.
The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a forecast of future activity. Volcanic Alert Level 1 indicates the primary hazards are those expected during volcanic unrest; steam discharge, volcanic gas, earthquakes, landslides and hydrothermal activity. While Volcano Alert Level 1 is mostly associated with environmental hazards, 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.
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