Ambae volcano down to level two

Map of the danger zones around Manaro.
Map of the danger zones around Manaro.

THE Manaro volcano on Ambae has become stable and its alert level has been dropped to Level two, says the Vanuatu Meterological Geohazards Department (VMGD).

The restricted area of risk is now limited within two kilometres from the active vent in Lake Voui.

Observations done from November 22 to 29 confirmed that the eruptive activity that occurred in September until the end of November 2017 has dropped.

A Geohazards spokesman said the explosions are less frequent and volcanic cloud emitted are white colour, meaning it is only emitting steam.

He said people from Ambae and neighbouring islands may no longer hear explosions, not view volcanic ash and gas columns and glows over the mountain at night.

A small-scale eruption in Lake Voui ceased.

“These observations and the analysis of seismic confirmed that the volcanic activity has dropped to a major unrest state,” the spokesman said.

“The volcano activity consisted of ongoing emissions of steam cloud and/or volcanic gas.

“The local population and visitors can smell the volcanic gas while approaching the volcanic area.”

The eruption at Ambae started in September, when the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to Level 3.

The style of eruption has changed around 22 September when Geohazards staff observed lava (molten rock) at the surface for the first time.

This was a significant change and raised the level of uncertainty about the development of the eruption.

The volcanic Alert Level was also raised at that time to Level 4.

“With more observations and the analysis of seismic, gas, thermal and deformation data by scientists from the Geohazards Division of the (VMGD) and the international counterparts, it is confirmed that the volcano has settled in a more stable state of activity, therefore the Alert Level was dropped to Level Three on October 6,” said the spokesman.

“The current observations are consistent with the Alert Level 2 activity. Level 2 indicates ‘Major Unrest’; danger is around the crater rim and specific area, considerable possibility of eruption and also chance of flank eruption.”

Ambae volcano is a very large volcano and is frequently active.

In recorded history, there have been many eruptions, every 10-50 years over the past 150 years.

All have been from the summit craters, except one recorded in 1670’s when a lava flow occurred in the NduiNdui area.

The current eruption is focused in the summit crater and there are no indications of activity elsewhere on Ambae Island.

“We are issuing advice to all tourism agencies, local authorities, people of Ambae and the general public not to access the Danger Zone which is about 2 km radius from the eruptive vent. In this area volcanic gases are expected and may be more abundant.

“Villages from Ambae island may experience volcanic hazards from gas, especially those exposed to prevailing trade winds direction.”

The VMGD will continue to closely monitor this volcano activity.