Earthquake strikes near White Island

White Island is an active volcano that has shown signs of unrest in recent times (File)
White Island is an active volcano that has shown signs of unrest in recent times (File)

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake has struck just off the coast of White Island on Wednesday morning.

The earthquake struck at 8:43am, at a depth of 177km, just 35km northwest of White Island.

The island, which is only about 50km from the Bay of Plenty, is an active volcano that has shown signs of unrest in recent times.

However, GeoNet duty seismologist Dr Natalie Balfour said the quake is unlikely to be of any real consequence.

She said the intensity of the earthquake had been deemed "unnoticeable".

"Intensity is a measure of the amount of ground-shaking at the surface - and while it had a magnitude of 4.4, it was quite deep, so there wasn't a lot of ground-shaking," she said.

"If you take into account the full distance, it was about 200km away from White Island roughly - and that's quite far."

Dr Balfour said a good indication of the seriousness of a quake is the number of people who report feeling it - and she said no one told GeoNet of this one.

Newshub.