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Risk of Whakaari/White Island eruption remains high

12 December 2019

The risk of further eruptions at Whakaari/White Island is unchanged and remains high, GNS Science experts say.

The Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) has been lowered to level 2. Scientists stress this does not indicate a lowered risk of an eruption.

The VAL reflects current activity at the volcano, and level 2 indicates heightened volcanic unrest with potential for eruption hazards.

There has been no eruption since Monday’s tragic event, although there has been an uptick in seismic activity.

The likelihood of a further eruption in the next 24 hours remains at 50 – 60 per cent.

“It’s crucial that the public understands the VAL is not a forecasting tool,” GNS Science volcanologist Geoff Kilgour says.

“While the volcano is not currently erupting, there remains potential for further eruptions, bursts of volcanic gases and landslides.

“Based on current monitoring, there appears to be shallow magma beneath the vent, which is de-gassing.

“An eruption could happen at any time, with little or no warning.

“The probability of an eruption has not changed, and the risks remain considerable.”

GNS Science is planning another gas flight today, which will shed more light on what is going on beneath the surface.

Monitoring equipment on the island is still functional and is being constantly watched by the National Geohazards Monitoring Centre.

GNS Science will update the VAL when there are changes at the volcano.

“We are all saddened at the further loss of life overnight from this eruption,” Dr Kilgour says.

“Everyone at GNS Science is thinking of the families and friends of those who have died – and the people who were injured in Monday’s eruption.”


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