Drone footage reveals steaming, bubbling White Island crater lake

Drone footage of the crater of White Island has showcased a "witch's brew of bubbling hot and acidic fluid" and plumes of steam.

On Friday, GNS Science released a video showing its team monitoring the crater lake of White Island (Whakaari) using a drone. White Island is New Zealand's most active volcano.

The video shows plumes of steam rising from the extremely acidic crater lake, which GNS Science say is "more acidic than battery acid" with a temperature of 60-70C and a pH of around -1.

While samples from the lake are typically collected manually, due to conditions on GNS Science's last visit, it was impossible to approach the lake safely. A drone was instead used to get the sample and take footage. 

It was the first time a UAV has been used to collect the sample.

"The steam and wave action in the lake created many challenges for our team, not to mention the pilots had to be positioned 25 metres above the actual lake," GNS Science said.

"Understanding the chemistry of the crater lake plays a crucial role in interpreting the changes occurring on the island. This new technique could open new possibilities for the future, enabling us to collect the data we need, while keeping our staff safe."

On June 26, GNS Science raised the Volcanic Alert Level at White Island to level 2 following moderate unrest and recent earthquake swarms.

"The change in gas flux represents a significant change in our background monitoring parameters at Whakaari and is consistent with moderate or heightened volcanic unrest," a statement said. 

Volcano Alert Level 2 is mostly associated with volcanic unrest hazards with potential for eruption hazards.