White Island volcanic alert increased
Mon, 06 Aug 2012 8:21p.m.
The volcanic alert level at White Island has been increased to level 2.
Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is monitoring volcanic activity, after GNS Science raised the alert level of the island.
A web camera captured a small eruption in the early hours of Sunday morning, following an increase in volcanic tremor and gas levels over the past week.
While these phenomena are not unheard of on White Island, this is the first substantial confirmation that small scale eruptions are occurring on the island and confirms the risk to visitors has increased, according to GeoNet.
The aviation colour code has been increased to orange, indicating the volcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption.
GeoNet warns White Island is an active volcano and there is always risk when visiting the island. Vessels travelling nearby should keep alert.
Eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning, so extra caution should be taken if visiting the island.
Levels in the White Island crater lake increased from 3 metres to 5 metres overnight last Friday. A volcanic earthquake was also recorded, indicating an eruption may have occurred, GeoNet reports. A flow of gas and steam has been present through the lake and from vents near the lake since then. A gas flight on August 1 recorded increases of sulphur gases in the steam and volcanic gas plume.
Since early July there have been intermittent periods of volcanic tremor, becoming more continuous since July 28. A particularly stronger episode was recorded overnight Saturday and ended in a volcanic earthquake at 4:54 Sunday morning.
GNS Science volcanologists are monitoring the activity and further information will be released as soon as it is available.
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