Sitting 48 km offshore, White Island (Whakāri) is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano which has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. About 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.
A sulphur mining venture began on the island in 1885; this was stopped abruptly in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed and a landslide destroyed the sulphur mine and miners' village; twelve lives were lost. The remains of buildings from that era are now a tourist attraction.
Although privately owned, White Island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit White Island every year. GeoNet monitors volcanic activity and visits the island around 10 times a year.
Most Recent Eruption
The first eruption of the current episode occurred at 4:54 am on 5 August 2012.
- When: March to September 2000
- Effects: Early in March a new vent developed and began to emit ash. An eruption occurred late in July which covered the crater area in scoria, also displacing the main crater lake and forming a new explosion crater 150 m across.
Last Volcanic Alert Bulletins
Comment: Volcanic Alert Bulletin WI-2013/13 - White Island Volcano
Apr 29, 2013
Comment: Volcanic Alert Bulletin WI-2013/12 - White Island Volcano
Mar 26, 2013
Comment: Volcanic Alert Bulletin WI-2013/11 - White Island Volcano
Mar 04, 2013
What does GeoNet do?
- Visual Observations: 2 web cameras are sited on White Island; one web camera is located on the North Island coast at Whakatane.
- Seismic Monitoring: 1 seismograph and a microphone to detect volcanic explosions.
- Chemical Analysis: Water and gas chemistry samples and soil gas measurements are taken every 4 to 6 weeks; continuous plume monitoring using miniDOAS (differential optical absorption spectroscopy) equipment is currently being tested. Airborne gas monitoring is undertaken regularly but is weather dependent.
- Ground Deformation: Levelling for deformation every three months.