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Report on White Island (New Zealand) — March 1983

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 3 (March 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

White Island (New Zealand) No eruptive activity; B-type events increase

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on White Island (New Zealand). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198303-241040.

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)


Aerial inspection by NZGS personnel on 10 March revealed no evidence of eruptive activity since 7 January. A white steam plume was rising to about 600 m altitude from the SE part of 1978 Crater. For 200 m to the N, there were moderate emissions from vents in deep gullies and from two fumaroles. Very little emission was originating from Donald Mound. Most of the Mound was covered with yellow sublimates, but a central zone was gray.

Since 7 January the number of low-frequency (B-type) events has increased, especially 9-15 February (more that 25/day; maximum, 42) and 22 February-4 March (more than 21/day). High-frequency (volcano-tectonic) events usually numbered fewer than 5/day, except for 6 on 29 January, 7 on 6 February, and 10 on 21 February. Wide-band seismic events were recorded on 19 and 24 February, and 2 and 6 March. They lasted 4-40 minutes with peak-to-peak amplitudes up to 70 mm.

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: B. Scott, NZGS, Rotorua.