The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department is warning tourists and aviation centers in the island chain that four of its six volcanoes are now seeing “drastic” increases in activity. Vanuatu consistis of 83 islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean near New Zealand.
According to Radio New Zealand:
Meteorologist Esline Bule said the background noise and gas levels on the volcanic island of Ambrym were very significant.
Ash had settled a little on Ambae but seismic activity remained at level three, indicating minor eruptions.
“Already [on] Ambae there’s a significant ash fall last weekend, in the western part. Ambrym, the volcanic ash is not manifested much yet in the villages. But there’s things happening at the top in the crater.”
Vanuatu uses a six-level alert system, ranging from Level 0 (no activity) to Level 5 (very large eruption) to report volcanic activities on its many islands. Of the six active volcanoes on its islands, two are now registering Level 3 (minor eruption), and a third is Level 2 (major unrest).
The warning for Ambae, one of the islands now at Level 3, states:
At this Alert Level, the volcanic activity is likely to continue to increase or decrease to its normal level of unrest at any time. The area of risk is within 3 km around the volcano and areas that expose to trade winds. With this situation, villages and communities of Ambae Island, especially those in the prevailing trade winds direction will expect volcanic gas, ash falls and acid rain that may cause foliage fumigation hence damage garden crops. It’s very important that communities, villages, visitors and travel agencies seriously consider this information.
The island of Ambrym, which is home to a double-volcano, and is more frequently visited by tourists, has issued more detailed exclusion warnings. The other three islands with volcanoes are currently at Level 1 (signs of volcanic unrest).