Increases in gas flux at White Island

Data from a gas-measuring flight undertaken yesterday at White Island by GNS scientists shows that levels of volcanic gases emitted from volcano are slightly higher than the levels measured last week. Overnight, the seismic activity has reverted to a continuous tremor and remains at a high level.

The Volcanic Alert Level remains at 1 and the Aviation Colour Code remains at Orange.

Volcano Technician Karen Britten said that although there appeared to be a muddy lake around the active vent, the area looked quite dry. During yesterday's flight she saw many explosions from the vent, but they were "not as visually spectacular" as those she observed last Friday.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas flux has increased from 1800 to 2000 tons per day, Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) flux from 366 to 600 tons per day and Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) flux is now 19 tons per day (previously, 15 tons/day). GNS scientists say it is quite likely that the increases in sulphur gases are caused by re-heating and movement of elemental sulphur in the hydrothermal system surrounding the new magma beneath the crater.

The higher gas fluxes do not suggest that a large eruption is imminent, but both the ongoing eruption of ash and rock and the strong seismic tremor indicate that White Island is still at an elevated state of unrest.

The rapid changes during the past few days are signs that explosions are possible at any time and could occur with little or no warning.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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