Whakaari/White Island still emitting plume, but gas levels decrease

12:37 pm on 17 November 2020

Whakaari/White Island is continuing to emit ash in the steam and gas plume, but gas levels have decreased.

View on 16 November 2020 of steam, gas and ash emission from the 2019 primary vent area of the Whakaari/White Island crater.

View of steam, gas and ash emission yesterday from the 2019 primary vent area of the Whakaari/White Island crater. Photo: GNS Science

Last week, GNS Science raised the volcanic alert level to two, after ash deposits were visible on the island's cameras and a darker than usual plume was seen from the mainland.

An observation flight on Monday confirmed there were still small amounts of ash in the plume, although levels of ash emission have lowered over the last few days.

Analysis of the ash shows it comprises hydrothermal minerals and old volcanic material and no new magma is present.

The ash particles are material eroded from the 2019 vent area by the flow of steam and gas.

Since last Wednesday, ash coating on some of the web camera windows has made it difficult for volcanologists to see the active vent area.

Ash deposited on solar panels has also reduced their capability to charge some of the monitoring stations.

Gas levels have decreased, but remain higher than the usual background levels.

Low-level volcanic tremors continue, but the seismic activity is not unusual for Whakaari/White Island.

The island volcano erupted on 9 December last year, leaving 21 people dead either on the day or in the weeks following.

Two bodies have never been recovered from the island. Another 26 were injured, most with long roads to recovery.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs