A new crater has formed on White Island following a minor eruption on Wednesday but it's likely little or no magma was ejected.

During an aerial inspection of the site on Whakaari, volcanologists found the new crater in the northeast corner of the complex and found evidence of a landslide. Hot translucent gas was being emitted from the new vent but GeoNet said gas levels were only slightly elevated.

Seismic activity remains low and the Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2.

The fact there is no new lava suggests the eruption was likely driven by steam and gas, like the eruptions in 2012 and 2013, GeoNet said.

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At about 9.50pm on Wednesday, the volcanic island in the Bay of Plenty erupted, covering at least 80 per cent of the floor of the main crater and up two sides of the crater wall with a dark-green ash.