Logo link to homepage

Report on White Island (New Zealand) — April 1983

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 4 (April 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

White Island (New Zealand) Deflation ends

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on White Island (New Zealand). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198304-241040.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


When NZGS personnel visited the island on 14 April, they observed few differences in 1978 Crater. The small green ponds present during the previous visit on 22 March had enlarged and merged to cover 60-70% of the crater floor. Color ranged from orange adjacent to the fumaroles to lime green. Fumarolic activity continued on the W wall and up the NW-trending gully system. Activity at Donald Mound appeared to have declined, but no fumarole temperatures were measured. Very small changes in tilt were recorded: +8 mm about 150 m W of Donald Mound, and +9 mm about 100 m N of it. The NZGS noted that these changes indicated an end to the deflation of the Donald Mound area recorded between November 1982 and January 1983 (figure 8).

Geologic Background. Uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is the emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, four sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NNE. Intermittent moderate phreatomagmatic and strombolian eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826, but its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project.

Information Contacts: P. Otway, NZGS, Waikarei; B. Scott, NZGS, Rotorua; G. Sorrell, DSIR, Wellington.