Swarm of almost 200 quakes rock White Island

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Sunday, 26 May 2019, 9:22AM
An aerial view of White Island near Whakatane. Photograph supplied/GNS
An aerial view of White Island near Whakatane. Photograph supplied/GNS

A swarm of earthquakes has rocked White Island, with 196 recorded of various magnitudes since Thursday.

White Island, or Whakaari, lies 50km off shore from Whakatāne and is an active marine volcano.

GeoNet duty volcanologist Natalia Deligne confirmed that a swarm of quakes started on Thursday and over the last 24 hours the rate and magnitude had increased.

Deligne said the swarm does not appear to be linked to volcanic unrest but may result in increased landslide risk on island.

"Since Thursday, 196 earthquakes have been located, 22 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater have occurred in the last 24 hours, and the largest three are M3.9, M3.8, and M3.8," she said.

"The swarm appears to be tectonic in nature, unrelated to volcanic processes."

Deligne said there may be a heightened risk of landslides as the earthquakes were shallow and local and the island's material was relatively weak.

"There are no changes in volcano monitoring parameters or the level of volcanic activity at Whakaari/White Island," she said.

"Our observations are consistent with minor volcanic unrest and the Volcanic Alert Level remains at 1 while the Aviation Colour Code stays at Green.

"While Volcano Alert Level 1 is mostly associated with environmental hazards, eruptions can still occur with little or no warning.

"GNS Science continues to closely monitor Whakaari/White Island and our other active volcanoes.

"There is no further Volcanic Alert Bulletin planned at this stage."

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