Report on Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — 19 October-25 October 2022
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
19 October-25 October 2022
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 October-25 October 2022. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 26 October GeoNet reported continuing unrest at Whakaari/White Island characterized by persistent gas-and-steam emissions and intermittent, minor, passive ash emissions during the previous two weeks. Sulfur dioxide gas emissions were low, averaging around 217 tonnes per day when measured during an overflight on 7 October. During an observation overflight on 19 October scientists saw gas-and-steam plumes rising from several vents on the NW and W sides of the lake. The temperature of the emissions was 145 degrees Celsius, slightly less than the 165 degrees measured on 5 October. The Aviation Color Code was remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) and the Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5).
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.