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“Equal” chance of another eruption at White Island

An aerial view of White Island following Monday's eruption. Photos: ARHT.

Steam and gas driven jetting is still happening from the active vent area following White Island's fatal eruption.

Five people are dead and eight are still unaccounted for after an eruption at White Island at 2.11pm on Monday.

"Since the eruption yesterday afternoon, no further eruptions have occurred," says GNS duty volcanologist Geoff Kilgour.

"The steam and gas driven jetting is still occurring from the active vent area. The Volcanic Alert Level stays at Level 3.

An eruption occurred at Whakaari/White Island at 14:11pm on Monday 9 December, unfortunately with tragic consequences. We express our sincere sympathies for those families affected."

Since the eruption, seismic activity has dropped to low levels and there has been no further eruptive activity. However, we are still observing localised steam and mud jetting from the active vent area, says Geoff.

"Over the next 24 hours we estimate an equal likelihood of either no eruption or a smaller/similar sized eruption that would impact the main crater floor.

"There is a high level of uncertainty associated with this estimate. We also estimate the least likely scenario is a larger eruption. There is an extremely low likelihood of any ash impact to the mainland, but gas may be smelt depending on the prevailing wind direction.

"Our monitoring equipment is operating and we continue to closely monitor the situation on the island. We will be attempting to collect additional airborne gas (CO2 and SO2) data later this afternoon to aid in future prognosis of the volcano."

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3.

The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

GNS Science and the National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continues to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island for further signs of activity. Volcanic Alert Level 3 indicates a minor local eruption is in progress.

Enquiries related to the emergency response should be directed to National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA – www.civildefence.govt.nz)

More information will be made available within the next 24 hours, or sooner if required.

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