Volcanic eruption underway on White Island, New Zealand

Volcanic eruption underway on White Island, New Zealand

White Island volcano has erupted, prompting GNS Science, advising caution for visitors to take extra care.

The White Island web camera has captured a small eruption on Sunday morning, August 5, 2012 at 04:55 am NZST (August 4, 2012 16:55 UTC) from the Crater Lake at White Island. During the past week there has been an increase in volcanic tremor and volcanic gas levels as stated in our earlier report.

GNS Science volcanologist Michael Ronsenberg said "These phenomena are not unknown for While Island, but this is the first substantial confirmation that small eruptions are now occurring on the island and confirms the risk to visitors has increased," he said.

"Eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning. We advise extra caution should be taken, if visiting the island."

GNS has changed the volcano's code from "experiencing signs of elevated unrest above known background levels" to "volcanic eruption is underway with no or minor ash emissions".

The Volcanic alert level has been raised to alert level 2 from 1 and the Aviation Colour Code changed from Yellow to Orange, due to "minor eruption activity". It follows a code change last week when scientists discovered water levels in a Crater Lake rose by about 3m to 5m overnight and the number of tremors had increased activity. There was a particularly stronger seismic episode recorded Sunday morning, ending in a volcanic earthquake at 4.54am that day.

Rosenberg said: " had a sound signal, which meant something happened on the surface. So we went back and looked at the camera images."

"Obviously being at night time, there was no visual observations and initially we weren't able to determine what that small event was. "But we've narrowed it down and recognise that there has been full hydrothermal eruption." However a white steam plume at the crater lake can sometimes be seen from areas of the Bay of Plenty coast it has been reported.

Rosenberg said there had not been any further eruptions, and the number of tremors has decreased. "It's now at similar levels to before the weekend."

GNS Science was "paying close attention" to the volcano at the last "gentle eruption" that had been in early 2001. White Island also experienced a "moderate-sized explosion" in July 2000, when fresh lava was pushed out. "In the past this kind of activity has increased to small eruptions that produce ash, and that ash could drift as far as the mainland," Rosenberg said.

"We can't predict what the volcano is going to do and we are not making any forecasts, but yes, it's certainly possible that the activity could ramp up again."

Source: Stuff.co.nz, Geonet

Tags: new zealand

Comments

June Alexander 6 years ago

fascinating information, thankyou for your work

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