26 May 2019

Swarm of almost 200 earthquakes on White Island

11:50 am on 26 May 2019

A swarm of increasingly strong earthquakes has been rocking White Island - Whakaari in Bay of Plenty this week.

An active andesite stratovolcano on White Island, off the east side of North Island, New Zealand, Pacific

Photo: AFP

GNS duty volcanologist Natalia Deligne said 196 earthquakes have been identified since Thursday.

Twenty-two earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater have occurred in the last 24 hours, the largest being magnitude 3.9.

"Over the past 24 hours the number of earthquakes and their magnitude has increased. This is a tectonic form as far as we can tell, not related to volcanic activity. The largest earthquake in the swarm is 3.9 at 6.18 [this morning] I believe."

Ms Deligne said the swarm may result in an increased landslide risk on the island.

She said it's not unusual to have so many earthquakes in the area but GNS is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

"We're looking very closely at whether the other monitoring parameters are changing and there's been no change."

Tourists exploring White Island Volcano, an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand, Pacific

Visitors are being warned there is an increased risk of landslides on White Island at present. Photo: AFP