On December 9, at 2.11 pm local hour, the White Island volcano erupted. The volcano, also known as Whakaari (its Māori name), had increased its activity in the last few weeks, and a level four alert had been issued. According to New Zealand’s police, at least 50 tourists were visiting the island: five were killed as they were hiking in the inner crater, and at least 20 were injured.

Rising in an uninhabited island, White Island is located about 30 miles from the coast of the Bay of Plenty – North Island’s east coast – and it is the most active volcano of the country as well as accessible. Around 10,000 tourists visit the island each year because of its stunning yellow and orange landscapes.

Although its last previous activity registered was in 2012, the stratovolcanoes are not only characterized by their conic shape but for their intervals of explosive eruptions, somewhat unpredictable -the Vesuvius in Italy and the Krakatoa in Indonesia also pertain to this type.- Dr. Ken Glairdhrill of GNS Science (a New Zealand Crown Research Institute) said it was “almost like a throat-clearing eruption,” since it “was not particularly a big eruption.” 

With a history of 150, 000 years of activity, Whakaari made clear that a simply exhalation can cause a tragedy. The rounded island was blocked due to the unstable conditions and toxic gases: although two dozen people are missing, police does not believe they have survived.

Despite the prediction systems we have as humans built, it is important always to remember that nature can turn things around. SkyAlert brings you all the information you need to know about natural phenomena.



Graham-McLay, C. (2019). New Zealand volcano: five dead after White Island eruption. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/09/white-island-new-zealand-volcano-eruption-with-tourist-present

Science, G. (n.d.). About White Island / White Island / New Zealand Volcanoes / Volcanoes / Science Topics / Learning / Home. Retrieved December 9, 2019, from https://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Learning/Science-Topics/Volcanoes/New-Zealand-Volcanoes/White-Island/About-White-Island

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