Whakaari/White Island remains off-limits
Although Whakaari/White Island might look like there is a lot of activity on the island at the moment its volcanic alert level has just been lowered.
SunLive received reports from people saying they could see the steam from Papamoa Beach and people thought it had erupted again.
A GNS Science spokesperson says on some days in autumn and winter atmospheric conditions can make the steam plume rising from Whakaari/White Island look spectacular from the mainland.
“GNS Science can advise that there has not been an eruption in recent days, but a low level of volcanic activity has continued since December 2019.”
Today GNS Science lowered the volcanic alert level to one, from two, to reflect a general decrease in the level of volcanic unrest on the island.
However, Volcanology Team Leader Nico Fournier says the Volcanic Alert Level is not a forecast of future activity.
“A volcano’s Alert Level communicates the status of the volcano – its current activity, state of unrest and expected hazards.
"Volcanic Alert Bulletins are issued to communicate the status of the volcano and any risk and hazards that our monitoring team are seeing.
"Recent monitoring of Whakaari/White Island by our scientists has shown that activity has decreased to where it is currently considered ‘minor volcanic unrest’. This has prompted us to lower the Alert Level.”
Whakaari/White Island Recovery Project Manager Craig Morris says that representatives of Recovery partner agencies and groups including GNS Science, NZ Police, Department of Internal Affairs and WorksafeNZ have always been mindful of the consequences of a change in Volcanic Alert Level.
“Even with the recommencement of marine activity post COVID-19 restrictions, Whakaari remains off limits.
“Whakaari is a privately owned Island. Its owners only allow access to individual persons or organisations specifically authorised by them.
"Any landing by unauthorised persons will be unlawful and will be subject to Police intervention."
The agencies involved in the recovery project are reminding people that a drop in volcanic alert level is not a sign that it’s safe, or permitted, for anyone to return to the island.