Whakaari/White Island continues to emit steam, alert level still 2

Fri, Mar 10
Whakaari / White Island in the Bay of Plenty.

Whakaari/White Island remains at Volcanic Alert Level 2 (VAL 2) as it continues to emit "significant amounts" of gas and steam, GNS Science said in an update today.

The agency said observation flights taken on March 2 and 9 showed the island was emitting heavy amounts of steam and gas at temperatures of around 240 degrees. However, it says 600 degrees had been recorded in the past.

"During certain weather patterns, the steam coming out the crater can generate large plumes that are clearly visible from the mainland, as happened on March 5, 2023.

"Gas fluxes have increased compared to the previous measurements but are within the usual range for Whakaari," GNS said.

GNS said the VAL 2 status, as well as a Yellow Aviation Colour Code, indicates "moderate to heightened unrest" on Whakaari.

The active vent area emitting steam and gas on March 2, 2023.

It acknowledged there was a "greater level of uncertainty in our interpretation due to the current lack of consistent, useful real-time data".

The institute said it would undertake additional observation flights to the island until it can service its on-island equipment and power supplies.

It also shared a reminder that the VAL reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a future forecast.

"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," it said.


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