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Activity at White Island increases

White Island on Monday following the fatal eruption. Photo: ARHT.

This morning volcanic tremor has significantly increased at Whakaari/White Island indicating that volcanic gas pressures remain high.

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3, says Duty volcanologist Craig Miller.

"An eruption occurred at Whakaari/White Island at 2.11pm on Monday, unfortunately with tragic consequences.

"We express our ongoing sympathies with those families that continue to be affected."

Since around 4am today, the level of volcanic tremor has significantly increased at the island.

This has been accompanied by vigorous steaming and localised mud jetting in several of the craters created by the eruption on Monday.

"We interpret these signals as evidence of continued high gas pressures within the volcano," says Craig.

"The situation remains highly uncertain as to future activity. Eruptions in the next 24 hours are still likely to occur."

Results from the gas flight conducted Tuesday afternoon are still being analysed.

These are important for understanding the processes driving the volcanic activity.

The gas flights are conducted in the air, hundreds of metres above the volcano and concentrations measured there may not reflect concentrations present in the crater floor.

"There is an extremely low likelihood of any potential ash affecting the mainland, but people may smell gas, depending on the prevailing wind direction," says Craig.

"Our monitoring equipment continues to function and is providing us with continuous data on the volcano’s activity."

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3.

The Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

"GNS Science and our National Geohazards Monitoring Centre continue 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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