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Tourists see White Island volcano in action

Tuesday 29 Jan 2013 7:25 p.m.

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Tourists on White Island got a rare chance to see the volcano in action today, as rocks and mud were thrown into the air.

GNS scientists say the current level of tremor activity means there is a greater than usual hazard to visitors.

Tourists wanting to get up close and personal with White Island's volcano certainly got their money's worth today.

“It's definitely worthwhile coming here, perhaps two or three times a year,” one tourist says. “Highly recommended, because at some point it might blow up completely, and we may never come here again.”

The volcano is in a state of unrest, and it has changed to an intermittent tremor pattern, meaning there's more volcanic activity.

“The small crater lake that was actually inside the area where most of the activity is actually dried up now, so we're getting more magnatic material coming up,” White Island tour guide Paul Kingi says. “We can see a few rocks coming up now.”

The volcano vent is becoming drier, and that's causing more mud bursts and fragments to be thrown out of the vent.

The tourists have enjoyed seeing the volcano in action today.

“Very spectacular – we can hear the sonic booming behind us throwing out some of the larger material,” one says.

However, the amounts of volcanic gases measured last week were similar to those measured in December last year, suggesting a large eruption is not imminent.

GNS Scientists will continue to closely monitor White Island over the next few weeks.

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