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Change in Seismic Activity At White Island

Change in Seismic Activity At White Island

29 January 2013 8.30pm Release No: 2

The continuous volcanic tremor which has been recorded during the past few weeks at White Island changed to a pattern of intermittent tremor early this morning (Tuesday 29 January).

Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Controller Warwick Murray said the volcanic tremor remained strong, and the current level of unrest meant there was a greater than usual hazard to visitors to the island.

“The crater lake is drying out and the frequent bursts of mud, steam and gas are still vigorous. During the last few days, the bursts have thrown mud and rock several tens of metres out from the lake area. Steam and gas clouds above the volcano are often visible from the Bay of Plenty coastline,” he said.

There was little risk to the mainland from an eruption.

“GNS Science’s past monitoring of the island showed that weak ash eruptions have often followed drying out of this type of mud-filled lake. More vigorous explosions of mud, rock and perhaps molten sulphur are possible in future, with little or no warning.”

The amounts of volcanic gases measured last week were similar to those measured in December 2012 and did not suggest a large eruption was imminent, Mr Murray said. However, both the ongoing mud bursts and the strong seismic activity indicated that White Island was still at an elevated state of unrest.

GNS Science continues to closely monitor White Island. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at 1 and the Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.


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