What happened to cause the White Island eruption

Peter Williams 10/12/2019
Photo credit: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.

Geologist and Tauranga Councillor Andrew Hollis joined Peter Williams Tuesday morning to help explain what might have happened at White Island as it erupted.

Hollis tells Magic Talk, “it looks to me to be what is called a striatic eruption.”

He explains the lake that forms in the crater has likely interacted with hot maga or rocks causing it to expand.

Once it couldn’t take the pressure anymore it’s thrown it all out.

He goes on to explain that if this is the case it is not an uncommon event for White Island, were it a new event there might have been evidence of magma but we will have to wait to be certain.

Williams inquired as to whether it is possible to have predicted the eruption with any certainty given that there is consistent activity from the area.

Holllis agrees and goes on to “explain that conditions on the island are constantly changing with even the regular weather like rainfall impacting upon readings from the island.

Andrew also clarifies that from a geological or volcanic perspective the eruption from White Island was a minor event and as such would not have given rise to any reliable indicators, compared to if it were a larger eruption.

He also tells Peter how the scale works with reports that White Island was at level 2 meaning increased activity requiring closer monitoring but it is not until the higher levels that people would typically be more concerned.

You can listen to the full interview above.