White Island volcanic alert level lowered

Whakaari/White Island last erupted on December 9, 2019, killing 22 people. Photo: ARHT.

White Island's volcanic alert level has been lowered following a slowly decreasing level of volcanic activity.

GNS Science duty volcanologist Yannik Behr says there is also confirmation that the recently observed ash emissions have ceased

"The Volcanic Alert Level for Whakaari/White Island is now lowered to Level 1. The Aviation Colour Code is also changed to Green.

"Observations and monitoring data over the past two months at Whakaari/White Island have been progressively trending back to lower levels of unrest that are typical of the long-term behaviour for the volcano.

"The decision to lower the Volcanic Alert Level to Level 1 is not based on changes in a single data set, but on the GNS Science

"Volcano Monitoring Group’s collective interpretation of all the monitoring data and their trends over the past two months.

"The data sets considered in our interpretation include observations from observation flights, web cameras, gas data, vent temperatures, ground deformation, and seismic activity."

Yanik says the temperature of the emitted gas and steam remains elevated, but has declined to below 300 °C.

He says discharge rates of sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) gases are at, or below, longer-term trends, as are ground deformation and seismic activity. Minor or dilute ash emission has not been observed since late February 2022.

"Taken together, these observations and the downward trends of key data sets over the past two months are consistent with low levels of unrest.

"As such the Volcanic Alert Level is lowered to Level 1 and the Aviation Colour Code is changed to Green.

"The Volcanic Alert Level reflects the current level of volcanic unrest or activity and is not a forecast of future activity."

Volcanic Alert Level 1 indicates the primary hazards are those expected during volcanic unrest; steam discharge, volcanic gas, earthquakes, landslides and hydrothermal activity.

While Volcano Alert Level 1 is mostly associated with environmental hazards, potential for eruption hazards also exists and eruptions can still occur with little or no warning.

"As noted previously, our on-island equipment has degraded over the past two years.

"However, recent improvements of the transmission of data means that some of the data is more continuous and more complete than it has been recently.

"GNS Science and its National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue to monitor Whakaari/White Island for further changes in unrest."

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