Report on Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — 6 February-12 February 2013
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
6 February-12 February 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 February-12 February 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 11 February GeoNet Data Centre reported that analysis of recent changes and measurements from White Island indicated that activity was lower than the previous week; therefore, the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5). The report also stated that early during the previous week the level of volcanic tremor recorded at White Island dropped to less than half that of the week before. At the same time small explosive eruptions in the active crater, which had been occurring for about three weeks, became less intense. On 7 February sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide gas measurements were similar to measurements from January: sulfur dioxide flux was 560 tonnes/day and carbon dioxide flux was 1,800 tonnes/day. A volcanologist that visited the lake area on 8 February noted that water had again filled the lake and small geysering was the only activity that he observed. The lake water was hot, about 80 degrees Celsius.
Geological Summary. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km 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 SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused 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. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.