Observation and gas flights have confirmed the active vent is continuing to emit a very vigorous steam and gas plume with a temperature of about 165 ºC. As the vent walls fail some minor ash emissions occur. Several periods of ash emission were noted during clear weather last week. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at 2.
Minor, passive ash emissions are again occurring intermittently from an active vent formed recently at Whakaari/White Island. On 5 October 2022, GNS Science volcanologists flying around the volcano observed the vent emitting a strong gas and steam plume near vertically. The temperature of the gas and steam plume was measured at 165 ºC. Our North Rim web camera has captured views of the steam and gas emission and minor ash emission. Sometimes the ash emissions have obscured the camera, but rain can clear the view.
The data from a gas observation flight last week measured a low discharge rate of sulphur dioxide (SO2) of 217 ± 19 tonnes/day. Observations from the TropOMI satellite, which images sulphur dioxide (SO2) once a day, has not shown any signals from Whakaari/White Island since Sunday 18 September.
The VAL remains at Level 2 (moderate to heightened unrest), acknowledging the current level of activity, but also continuing to acknowledge the greater level of uncertainty in our interpretation due to the current lack of consistent, useful real-time data. The Aviation Colour Code remains at Yellow, which reflects a reduced likelihood of minor ash emissions.
As the weather allows, we will be increasing the frequency of our gas and observation flights to the island until we can service our on-island equipment and power supplies. We still have intermittent access to webcams images from the island, providing some level of visual monitoring between our flights.
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.
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