Report on White Island (New Zealand) — 21 February-27 February 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 February-27 February 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on White Island (New Zealand). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 February-27 February 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Based on reports from White Island tour operators, the IGNS stated that on 19 February minor ash eruptions began at White Island. A light gray plume of fine ash rose ~2 km above the MH vent and drifted towards the mainland. Fine ash was deposited on and near White Island, but only an acid aerosol cloud reached the mainland near the town of Matata. IGNS personnel concluded that the ash eruptions on the 19th were similar to recent eruptive activity at the volcano, therefore White Island remained at Alert Level 1.
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.