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Report on Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — 24 April-30 April 2013

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 April-30 April 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, 24 April-30 April 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (24 April-30 April 2013)


Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


On 29 April GeoNet Data Centre reported that activity at White Island remained at a persistently low level, characterized by tremor and degassing. No mud or ash eruptions had been observed since early April. A volcanologist visited the island the previous week and observed that increased rainfall had caused the two lakes to merge together into one larger lake. The temperature of the lake was 62 degrees Celsius and the lava-dome temperature was 200 degrees. The lower level of activity prompted GeoNet to reduce the Aviation Colour Code to Green (indicating no active eruption). The Volcano Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5).

Geologic Background. 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.

Source: GeoNet