Ambae volcano back up to alert level three

The sky over Ambae shown in a picture from the Meteo's monitor real-time system.
The sky over Ambae shown in a picture from the Meteo’s real-time monitor system.

THE Ambae volcano is in a minor eruption state and the Volcanic Alert Level has been raised to Level three.

A Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department spokesman said the volcanic eruption at Ambae is confined inside the Lake Voui and is consistent with a level three alert.

He said scientific analyses confirmed that the current activity is similar to the volcanic activity of March 2018, with more and sustained emissions of volcanic ashes.

“The possibility of imminent increasing activity is low,” he said.

“The danger zone for life safety is now limited to a three km radius from the active vent and areas located in the Yellow Zone.

20182107-Safety Map_sm“Observation flights on July 13 and 20 have confirmed the activity at the volcano is only occurring in one of the summit crater lakes (Lake Voui) and is not changing.

“Photographs taken during observation flights show the activity consists of explosions and ejection of hot rocks from the eruptive vents accompanied by ash emission.

“A small–scale eruption continues in Lake Voui. The presence of ash that has fallen on Ambae during the last eruptive phases and now will continue to change the behaviour of streams and creeks when it rains.

“The creeks and streams can produce floods and carry a lot more debris (sands, gravel and boulders). The flow path of streams and creeks could change due to the flood debris. Landslide may occur at some areas during heavy rainfall.”

The spokesman said the volcanic activity consisted of ongoing emission of steam and/or gases and ashes.

“The local population from Ambae and from neighbouring islands can hear rumbling, volcanic explosions from volcano, smell volcanic gases, see volcanic ash and gas plumes and glows over the mountain at night,” he said.

A satellite picture shows ash spreading from Ambae almost as far as Efate. (Picture: Geoff Kong)
A satellite picture shows ash spreading from Ambae almost as far as Efate. (Picture: Geoff Kong)

“Significant impact of ashes and gases emission to villages at Ambae started in March 2018, when the Volcanic Alert level was raised to Level three. With the drop of the volcanic activity in May, the Alert Level was lowered to Level two in June.

“Observations of the current activity are consistent with the Alert Level three activity.’’

He said today’s Alert Bulletin advised  all tourism agencies, local authorities, people of Ambae and the general public not to access the Danger Zone.

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