Gaua volcano remains in major unrest state, Alert Level at 2

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Vanuatu's Gaua volcano continues in major unrest state and the Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) reports.

Observations and satellite data obtained from March to April 2018 confirm that the activity consists of ongoing volcanic steam cloud which may content volcanic gases. Gas will continue to be smelt while approaching the volcanic cone, the department said.

The Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) for Gaua volcano has been at Level 1 since December 21, 2010 and at Level 2 since January 31, 2018.

Based on its slight increased seismic activity and observation of ongoing volcanic gas emission and steam plumes in December 2017 and January 2018, the VAL was raised to Level 2, VGMD said earlier this year.

The current observations are consistent with the Alert Level 2 activity which indicates 'Major Unrest' – the danger is around the crater rim and specific area, there is a considerable possibility of an eruption and also a chance of a flank eruption.

The department advises all tourism agencies, local authorities, people of Gaua and the general public not to access Gaua's volcanic cone. In this area, volcanic gases will always be expected and other volcanic risks could occur at any time in such major unrest state. In addition, visitors approaching the volcano may smell volcanic gases.

Gaua Island is actually the exposed upper cone and summit of a stratovolcano that is 3 000 meters (10 000 feet) high and 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide. Most of the volcano is submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Featured image: Gaua volcano, Vanuatu (archived image). Credit: NASA-JSC

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