White Island viewed from Whakatane at 10.30am. Photo from
Civil Defence will monitor White Island (Whakari)
following a small eruption which could be part of a sequence
leading to a bigger event.
Following this morning's blast, sightseers were warned
another eruption could occur "at any time with little or no
The alert status remained at level 2, and the Aviation Colour
Code had been lowered from red to orange, Bay of Plenty Civil
Defence Emergency Management Group said.
Today's small eruption occurred at 10.23am, lasted for about
10 minutes and produced mostly steam. It was visible from the
Bay of Plenty coast, with a plume rising to about 4km above
sea level before slowly dispersing, said Emergency Management
Group spokesman Clinton Naude.
Activity had since returned to normal.
"The eruption originated in the active crater area that has
been experiencing very small mud eruptions in recent weeks.
"The eruption threw mud and rocks a short distance from the
source, and produced large volumes of white steam."
Weather radar observations showed a small proportion of
volcanic ash was carried with the steam, Mr Naude said.
White Island has been experiencing low-level activity since
last August, and today's eruption came as no surprise.
Vulcanologist observed a short period of strong volcanic
tremors yesterday morning, however it was unclear if it was
related to today's eruption.
Hazards from the eruption were restricted to people on the
island or possibly anchored nearby in boats, Mr Naude said.
"Anyone living in the Bay of Plenty was not at risk."
The eruption did not affect flights and no warnings were
issued to aircraft.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Matthew Shore said the
steam posed no risk to aviation.
GNS Science volcanologist Craig Miller said the eruption
could be part of a sequence leading to a bigger volcanic
White Island has experienced several minor eruptions over the
last year and vulcanologists have found magma "very near" to
the surface of the volcano, he said.
"We're not expecting it to stop in the next day or two."
There was no evidence to link White Island's volcanic
activity to the Seddon earthquakes, Mr Miller said.
GNS had alerted tourist operators to the increased risk of
heading out to the volcano, as eruptions on the island could
happen at short notice, leaving tourists with no time to
"It could be the one day that it goes suddenly wrong and you
have very little time to prepare for it or do anything about
it once you're out there."
This morning's eruption would not trigger volcanic events at
nearby areas such as Mt Tarawera, Mr Miller said.
"White Island pretty much acts independently."